Court Upholds Death Sentences of Men Involved in the Kot Radha Kishan Lynching

05/16/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – On Thursday, May 16, the Lahore High Court upheld the death sentences of three individuals convicted of lynching a Christian couple in November 2014. The couple, who worked as laborers at a brick kiln in Kot Radha Kishan, were brutally murdered by a mob after they were falsely accused of committing blasphemy.

A two-judge bench, headed by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan, rejected challenges to the death sentences of Raiz, Irfan, and Mehdi Khan. However, the court did acquit two others, Hanif and Hafiz Ishtiaq, in connection with the lynching.

In November 2016, the five men were sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court after they were found to be guilty of the lynching and burning of Shahzad Masih and his wife Shama. The Christian couple was falsely accused of burning pages of a Quran by the owner of the brick kiln where they worked due to a monetary dispute.

After news of the accusation spread, a mob of enraged Muslims descended upon the brick kiln where Shahzad and Shama were being held. The mob brutally beat the Christian couple before burning them alive in the brick kiln.

False accusations of blasphemy are common in Pakistan. These accusations are often used to settle personal disputes or incite incidents of religious hatred against minority communities. Since the blasphemy laws were made harsher in the 1980’s, over 1,500 individuals have been accused of blasphemy. Under these laws, Christians and other religious minorities are disproportionately accused and punished.

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