Pakistan court acquits 20 people accused of lynching Christian couple
Shahzad and Shama Masih, who were working as labourers at a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan, Punjab province, were attacked by a mob of around 1,000 people in November 2014.world Updated: Mar 25, 2018 20:46 IST
A anti-terrorism court in Lahore has acquitted 20 people suspected of involvement in the lynching and burning alive of a Christian couple accused of blasphemy.
Shahzad and Shama Masih, who were working as labourers at a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan, Punjab province, were attacked by a mob of around 1,000 people in November 2014 for allegedly desecrating the Quran. Shama was pregnant at the time of the incident.
The couple was brutally tortured, dragged and thrown into the furnace of the kiln by the mob. Police registered a case against 660 villagers after the incident. The autopsy report submitted to the Supreme Court in December 2014 stated the couple was alive when they were thrown into the kiln.
In 2015, the Lahore court indicted 106 suspected in the lynching. In November 2016, the court sentenced five men to death on two counts for their involvement in the couple’s murder. Eight others were charged with involvement in the lynching and sentenced to two years each in prison.
On Saturday, the court acquitted 20 suspects, giving them the benefit of doubt.
Christian organisations have condemned the move and said that it would encourage the killings of more innocent people in the future.
Blasphemy is a sensitive issue in Pakistan and a mere allegation can often prompt mob violence.
(With inputs from Agencies)