A Pakistani court has acquitted all 115 suspects accused of participating in a 2013 attack on a Christian neighborhood in Lahore. The court cited lack of evidence for its decision despite the wide availability of photo and video evidence of the incident. In March 2013, a Christian from Joseph Colony, a predominately Christian neighborhood of Lahore, was accused of blasphemy. Following the accusation, a mob of an estimated 3,000 Muslims attacked the Christian neighborhood and burned 150 houses. Will justice ever be given to the victims of the Joseph Colony incident?
01/29/2017 Pakistan (Christian Post) – A court in Pakistan on Saturday cited lack of evidence to acquit all 115 suspects in the burning of more than 150 houses of Christians in 2013 over alleged blasphemy of the Prophet Muhammad.
Chaudhry Muhammad Azam, Lahore’s anti-terrorism court judge, said the prosecutors failed to produce sufficient evidence against the accused, who had been charged under various laws, including the Anti-Terrorism Act, attempted murder, robbery, arson and terrorism, according to The Indian Express.
A prosecution lawyer, however, disputed the judge’s conclusion and was quoted as saying, “This incident not only spread a wave of terrorism in Lahore but also brought a bad to name to Pakistan.”
The March 8, 2013, attack was seen as the largest anti-Christian violence since the attacks in 2009 that killed nine Christians in the town of Gojra in the same province of Punjab.
Police arrested the accused two days after a mob of about 3,000 Muslims armed with sticks, clubs and stones burned at least 150 houses of Christians, a church and shops in the Joseph Colony area in Lahore over allegations that a Christian had made derogatory remarks about the Prophet Muhammad.
After the incident, a Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, reprimanded the government of Punjab and the province’s police for failing to protect members of the minority community. Justice Azmat Saeed Sheikh, a member of the bench, said the violence took place “right under the nose of Punjab Police and there was total inaction.”