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Blasphemy convict's death in jail raises suspicion

world Updated: Mar 18, 2011 11:02 IST
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The death of a Christian blasphemy convict in a Pakistani jail has raised suspicions about the cause behind his demise, as earlier he had expressed fears for his life and accused the police of torturing him.

David convicted by an additional district sessions judge last year was accused of sending blasphemous texts to a neighbor, a charge he denied till his death.

Suspicions about the cause of his death inside the prison have been raised by his son Aqeel and also due to the fact that David himself wrote two letters to the Human Rights commission of Pakistan in 2007 and 2009 expressing fears for his life and that of his family and also accusing the police of torturing him.

"We met with the three prisoners who were jailed with our father and asked them if they had noticed any bad health. They all appeared to be scared and nervous. They said something but their eyes said something else," Aqeel said.

The police, however, claim convict Qamar David died of a heart attack.

The post-mortem of David's body was carried out by police surgeon Hamid Ali and has revealed no torture marks on his body but the surgeon said he requires two to three days to confirm if David had a heart attack and his exact cause of death.

The Christian man belonging to the middle class had come to Karachi from Lahore in search of employment some years back and his family said they suspected foul play as they had received threatening calls from a unidentified caller a week back.

The blasphemy law which carries a death sentence for anyone found guilty of passing blasphemous remarks against the Prophet has become the source of a divide in Pakistani society since last year when Christian woman Asiya bibi was sentenced to death under the same law.

Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province who called for reviewing the blasphemy law, was also killed by his own bodyguard Mumtaz Qadri who claims he carried out the assassination because the senior politician had called the blasphemy law a dark law.

Their have been instances of persons undergoing trial under the blasphemy law or having been convicted of having been killed by religious zealots.