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ICC Note: A Christian Pakistani who was in jail on blasphemy allegations has been acquitted by a Sessions Court. Arif Masih and his brother were accused of blasphemy in October 2013. Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often abused and used to settle personal scores, and it is rare that the local court will acquit a Christian of blasphemy charge due to community pressure.  

08/06/2015 GUJRANWALA, PAKISTAN (CrossMap) – A Pakistani Christian believer has been acquitted and declared innocent of blasphemy charges after the complainant told the Sessions Judge that he was innocent and did not commit the alleged offense.

According to LEAD (Legal Evangelical Association Development), Arif Masih was on July 25, 2015, acquitted and declared innocent of blasphemy charges by the court of Mr. Iftikhar Husain Cheema, Additional and Sessions Judge of Wazirabad, after the complainant of the case, Mr. Khuram Shahzad, told the court Masif was innocent and did not commit any offence.

In an e-mail update on the case, LEAD says that in October 2013, two brothers — Tariq Masih and Arif Masih — had been falsely accused of blasphemy at Thatha Faqir Ullah, a Christian Colony of Wazirabad city, Gujranwala District (FIR — First Informiation Report — Number 533/2013, dated October 29, 2013) under section 295 B PPC was registered at the Waziranbad Police Station Saddar against them.

In the e-mail, received by the ASSIST News Service, LEAD stated: “Our colleague Mr. Nadeem Masih, a Christian lawyer, worked diligently and made agreed the complainant and witnesses with the help of family of the victim to give their statements in the favor of the accused in the court and the complainant gave his statement, which was considered by the court and the accused released.”

LEAD explained that Tariq Masih worked at the cutlery factory and in his spare time used to sell firecrackers to earn extra money. His brother Arif Masih was working on the Pakistan Railway. He is stated to have been innocent. Tariq, the main accused in the case, has relocated to Thailand.

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