HomeAnalysisPakistan court defers blasphemy judgement on death row appeal

Pakistan court defers blasphemy judgement on death row appeal

A court in Pakistan on Wednesday deferred its judgement on an appeal by a Christian couple held on death row for six years following a conviction on blasphemy charges, a defence lawyer said.

Shafqat Masih and his wife Shughufta Masih, were sentenced to death in 2014 for sending blasphemous text messages to their Muslim colleagues, lawyer Saiful Malook said.

The Lahore High Court had been expected to announce a verdict on the couple’s appeal, but the judge said more time was needed to examine new evidence.

The date for next hearing is due to be announced in the coming days.

The court ordered the prosecution to re-examine the faulty evidence used to frame the couple for blasphemy, a crime punishable by death in Pakistan.

The couple, parents of four young children, denied having sent the messages, and claimed they had been framed after a work related dispute with their Muslim colleagues, Malook said.

A prosecutor matched the mobile phone numbers from which the messages were sent with the couple’s identity, and used this as the main evidence in the case, the lawyer said.

But the couple claimed their identity documents were stolen from the company for the purpose of buying mobile numbers to frame them for the crime.

Mobile phone companies no longer sell numbers without electronic thumbprints, but this was not the case in 2013 when the couple were arrested, said Asim Khan, an employee working for Ufone, a telecom company.

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