Accused Killer of Christian Student in Pakistan Walks Free Due to Flawed Investigation
Sharoon Masih, a Christian student in Pakistan’s Punjab Province, was beaten to death last August in front of a crowd of witnesses. Shortly after Sharoon’s death, Ahmed Raza, a Muslim classmate, admitted to police that he had beaten up Sharoon, but had not meant to kill him. Now, after 5 months, Ahmed Raza walks free because of a flawed and biased investigation by police. According to the trial court, the evidence gathered in the investigation was not enough to keep Ahmed Raza in prison. Discrimination against Christians in Pakistan is both widespread and intense. Because of this, the majority of Christians are considered ‘unclean’ and relegated to the country’s lowest rungs of the social ladder. Will Sharoon and his family ever receive justice?
01/31/2018 Pakistan (Morning Star News) – A Muslim high school student accused of killing a Christian in Pakistan has been freed on bail due to gaps in police investigations, sources said.
Sharoon Masih, 17, died on Aug. 27, 2017 after Ahmed Raza beat him for drinking water from a glass used by all students in a classroom in Punjab Province’s Vehari District, as Raza considered Sharoon an “unclean” Christian, according to the deceased’s father. Ilyasab Masih said he based his account on what Muslim student witnesses had told him, but that they later changed their story. His son was the only Christian in the class.
Masih said Raza’s family has offered him more than $27,000 to settle the case, which he has refused.
Prosecuting attorney Allah Dad Khan said a police First Information Report (FIR) and post-mortem report left several gaps that enabled Raza to obtain bail on Jan. 8 from the Lahore High Court’s Multan bench. The FIR drafted by police states that Sharoon’s father had witnessed the accused beating his son, though Masih was not present at the time of the attack, Khan said.
“The defense will use this factual error for its benefit in the trial court,” Khan said.
The FIR states that in the course of Raza kicking and punching Sharoon, he hit him fatally in the abdomen, Khan said.
“However, the post-mortem report states that there were no torture marks on the deceased’s body, therefore the defense claimed that Sharoon had not died of the beating,” he said. “It’s quite clear that the police and the medical officer deliberately left gaps in the FIR and the post-mortem report to benefit the accused in the trial.”
By stating that the cause of Sharoon’s death was “uncertain,” the medical officer gave the court reason to give the accused benefit of the doubt, Khan said.
“It’s the medical examiner’s responsibility to state the cause of death,” he said. “A human being has died, yet the medical report does not state the reason of his death, which points to mala fide on the doctor’s part.”
The lawyer added that he had presented various media reports in court stating that the accused was trained in karate and had the ability to level fatal blows. The court rejected the arguments on grounds that media reports were not admissible.
Khan said it was unfortunate that Raza will eventually go free due to the weak FIR, which police registered in the absence of any legal representation for the deceased’s family.
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