06/03/2020 Pakistan (International Christian Concern) – According to BBC News, a Christian couple sentenced to death on blasphemy charges in 2014 have had their High Court appeal delayed. After six years in jail, the couple continues to wait for the final decision to be read in regards to their appeal against the blasphemy conviction.
Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmanuel were convicted of sending blasphemy text messages that came from a phone number registered under Shagufta’s name. In Pakistan, blasphemy is a crime punishable by death. Until today no one has been executed under blasphemy charges. However, dozens have been killed by mobs after being accused.
The lawyer representing the couple was also involved in Asia Bibi’s case. Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who was also convicted and sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy, had her conviction successfully overturned by Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
Shagufta’s brother, Joseph, told the BBC that the couple is innocent and he doubted they were literate enough even to have written a blasphemous text messages. Joseph claims that Shafqat was tortured into making a false confession in 2014.
Shagufta worked as a caretaker in a Christian school prior to the blasphemy charges. She has four children with her husband Shafqat, who is partially paralyzed.
Human rights organizations say that blasphemy accusations in Pakistan are often used to target religious minorities or settle personal scores. Eventually, these cases can be overturned on appeal, as Asia Bibi’s case was last year.
The couple’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, told the BBC he believes the case against Sahgufta and her husband is even weaker than the case against Asia Bibi. He said the couple would need support from the international community and, if acquitted, asylum abroad.
Today, the court was adjourned before Shagufta and her husband’s hearing was heard. The hearing has been postponed for June 22, 2020.
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