Pakistan Sentences Five To Death Over Killing of Christian Couple in 2014

( [email protected] ) Nov 25, 2016 09:38 AM EST
In a rare victory over mob justice, five people were sentenced to death for the murder of a Christian couple who were falsely accused of blasphemy.
2 years after Christian couple Shahzad Masseh and Shabi Bibi were killed by a mob, an anti-terrorism court ijn Pakistan has held 23 people responsible for their mruder.

It was in 2016 when Shama Bibi, 24 was killed along with her husband Shahzad Masseh, 27 for allegations of blasphemy. 2 years later an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has sentenced to death five people over their killing.

The couple, who were reported to be illiterate, were falsely accused of tossing out the pages of the Quran, which is considered blasphemy. In Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country, blasphemy is legally punishable by death.

Reports of the killing described that a mob of about 1,200 lynched the couple in Kot Radha Kishan in Punjab, who were professed Christians, and throwing them into a brick kiln. Shama Bibi was said to four months pregnant at the time of the killing. There were also reports that the couple's legs were broken so they would not be able to escape.

The allegations of blasphemy came when a week before they were killed, Shahzad's father, who is a religious leader in the community passed away. Shahzad's cleaned out his father's room and threw out a trunk. The trash collector then said that he found torn pages of the Quran in the trash and reported it to the police.

But the brother of Shahzad, Iqbal,  claimed that Shahzad was framed as the local brick kiln owner, accused the family of trying to run away from their debt, as they are bonded workers for the brick kiln. But the son of the owner denied the accusations.

The family did not expect justice to be meted out for the death of Shahzad and his wife, as mob justice is frequent in Pakistan and those who take part in the violence of the crowd are rarely prosecuted or charged.

'I need justice but I am sure I won't be able to get it, the clerics are too powerful,' Shehzad's brother Iqbal said, in 2014, after the murder happened.

The sentencing of five people for the death of Shahzad Masseh and Shama Bibi is a very rare victory for the much persecuted Christian community in Pakistan. While the court has acquitted more than 90 defendants in the case, including the owner of the brick kiln, eight people were also sentenced to two years in prison.

"The five people awarded the death sentence were involved in dragging, beating, and burning the couple, while the other eight played a supportive role, according to the judgment," said Riaz Anjum, representing the family of the murdered couple.

There is no news when the sentence would be carried out.  

Tags : Pakistan, Christian couple death Pakistan