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ICC Note:

A moment of justice invaded Pakistan’s court system in the last days of 2017 when a Supreme Court bench absolved a 58-year-old Christian of blasphemy after the accused had already served 9 years in prison. In September 2008, police arrested the man after a ‘witness’ told the police that the Christian had desecrated pages from the Quran. With little investigation, police filed the charges and the Christian was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2009. After several appeals, the Supreme Court finally took the case and realized that multiple infractions of the Evidence Act, Pakistan’s law governing admissible evidence in court, had occurred. Without acceptable evidence of blasphemy, the Christian was released.

01/01/2018 Pakistan (Dawn) – A man accused of blasphemy won freedom on Friday after spending over nine years in jail. The Supreme Court absolved the 58-year-old of the blasphemy charges for want of evidence. Police arrested him on Sept 29, 2008, for allegedly desecrating pages of the Holy Quran in a mosque in the Sadiq Gunj area of Bahawalnagar and registered a case under Section 295-B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Suffering from hearing and speech impairments, Akhtar Mohammad had reported the incident to Imam Hafiz Mohammad Munir who informed the local panchayat, where the suspect was beaten up and later handed over to police.

The police filed a charge sheet against him before the Bahawalnagar district and sessions judge who sentenced the man to life imprisonment in 2009.

The Lahore High Court upheld the sentence in 2014. The Supreme Court took up the case the same year and provided the accused a state counsel as he could not afford a lawyer.

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