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Pakistani Christian Accused of Blasphemy Acquitted After 8 Years

By Sheraz Khurram Khan
Special Correspondent for ASSIST News Service in Pakistan

ANS (11/10/06) – Ranjah Masih who was accused of blasphemy during a protest demonstration against the events leading to the committing of suicide of Bishop John Joseph has been acquitted by the Lahore High Court on Friday, November 10, ANS has learnt.

Masih was arrested on May 7, 1998 and a charge was lodged against Ranjha Masih on May 8, 1998 under section 295/C of blasphemy law.
A man called Jahanzeb Malik lodged a complaint against Ranjah Masih. Justice and Peace Commission of Faisalabad Diocese Faisalabad appointed Khalil Tahir Sandh as Ranjha’s lawyer.

Additional Sessions Judge Faisalabad, Shahid Rafiq, announced the decision against Ranjha Masih on April 26, 2003.

Talking to ANS on phone Khalil said that one Muhammad Ramazan, a witness in the case hurled threat to him in the court in the presence of the honorable judge and others.

He went on to say that the judge missed out the threats that were hurled at him in his verdict but incorporated them later in his verdict at his request.

ANS received an email from CLAAS November 9 that urged believers to pray for Ranjah Masih as he was set to appear in the court for hearing next day, November 10.

Hope for his acquittal resurrected when the court opened hearing of Ranjah’s case on November 9, Thursday.

“This was the first hearing after the appeal which CLAAS lawyers submitted in 2003”, claimed the news release.

Mr. Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khausa adjourned the case and fixed November 10, the next date of hearing citing that wanted to hear all the arguments from both sides, it said.

Mr. Justin Gill and Mr. Akbar Munawar Durrani represented Masih on November 10 in the court of Mr. Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khausa.