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ICC Note:

A Christian family in Pakistan is accusing police of torturing a Christian man to death in prison last week. According to the family, police beat Liaqat Masih to death while trying to extract a confession to a crime he did not commit. Masih was accused by his Muslim employers of stealing. No other employee was accused of the theft, which has led the family to say that Masih was implicated because he was the only Christian on staff. Christians in Pakistan face intense persecution and discrimination and are often falsely accused of crimes. In some cases this is done out of religious hatred for Christians while other times it is done to settle personal scores. 

1/19/2016 Pakistan (The Gospel Herald) – Pakistani police last week tortured a devout Catholic to death in Punjab Province after the victim’s employer singled him out for a theft charge because of his faith, family members said.

Riasat Masih of Kalaskey village, Purana Kot in Gujranwala District, told Morning Star News that police killed his brother, 47-year-old Liaqat Masih, on Wednesday (Jan. 13) during interrogation in which he was hung upside down and beaten.

For more than a year Liaqat Masih had been employed as a driver for Raza Hameed, and several years previously for Hameed’s father, influential Gujranwala politician S.A. Hameed. Both Raza Hameed and S.A. Hameed were present at the police jail during the torture of Liaqat Masih, his brother said, adding that none of the employer’s Muslim employees were questioned about the theft last year of millions of rupees in cash and gold jewelry.

“Why was only my brother named and handed over to police custody, while the Muslim employees were not interrogated?” Riasat Masih said. “My brother had honestly served his employers for 15 years, but they did not even consider this fact before turning him in to police custody and asking them to torture him until he ‘confessed’ to the theft.”

Gujranwala Cantt Police arrested Liaqat Masih in mid-November 2015 after Raza Hameed registered a case against him (First Information Report No. 570/15). Riasat Masih said police had failed to produce any evidence against him or extract a confession despite torturing him last week during interrogation.

Riasat Masih said that his brother, who is survived by four children ranging in age from 9 to 20, languished in jail until Jan. 10, when police came for him claiming they had fresh evidence they sought to question him about.

“The police had picked him up and moved him to a private torture cell, and we were unable to trace his location for nearly four days,” he said. “Then someone told us that he had been moved to the Gujranwali Cantt police station, but that they would not show his formal arrest in official records until they had managed to extract a confession from him. We immediately hired a lawyer and filed a habeas corpus petition in court, which deputed a bailiff to raid the police station and produce Liaqat in court.

After the bailiff’s raid and Liaqat Masih’s subsequent appearance in court, police obtained a four-day physical custody of the accused. Police meantime also arrested his eldest son, Khurram Masih, who had been named as an accomplice in the theft case despite having almost no contact with his father at work, he said.

Attorneys had obtained interim bail for Khurram Masih to keep police from mistreating him as well, “but they still arrested him even though his protective bail was intact,” Riasat Masih said.

“The police then tortured both father and son, beating them up mostly in front of each other,” he said. “On the night of Jan. 13, Liaqat’s frail body couldn’t take any more beatings, and he succumbed to his internal injuries. Khurram, who was tortured so badly that he can barely stand now, has told us that the night his father died, the police had hung him [Liaqat Masih] upside down with a rope and beat him up indiscriminately.”

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