07/17/2019 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – On June 18, Zafar Bhatti, a Christian pastor who was falsely accused of blasphemy in 2013, had his High Court appeal postponed for the seventh time after six years in prison. The middle-aged Christian was arrested after an Islamic leader reported that an unknown number was sending him blasphemous text messages. With little evidence, the police accused and arrested Pastor Bhatti.
In 2013, Pastor Bhatti was tortured by police into a confession. However, he has insisted that he is innocent since being in prison. During the police investigation, it was found that the sim card responsible for sending the texts was registered under the name of Ghazala Khan, a woman.
Ghazala was also arrested and charged with blasphemy. However, she was granted bail and died in 2016. Even after Ghazala’s arrest, Pastor Bhatti remained behind bars.
In September 2014, a rumor went viral that Pastor Bhatti was almost killed in his prison cell. However, it was not Pastor Bhatti, but a British man named Muhammad Asghar, also imprisoned under blasphemy charges, in the cell next to Pastor Bhatti.
In May 2017, Pastor Bhatti was sentenced to life imprisonment. Pastor Bhatti has appealed this sentence. Pakistani judges often avoid cases of blasphemy because of the external pressure they receive. The new date for Pastor Bhatti’s appeal is scheduled to be September 12, 2019.
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