South Asia

Pakistan Christian sentenced to life in prison under notorious blasphemy law

Zhafar Bhatti

A Pakistani court on 3 May 2017, sentenced Zafar Bhatti, a Christian to life imprisonment under the blasphemy law.

He was charged under “section 295C and telegraph act section 25D in 2012 for sending blasphemous text messages from his mobile phone, which according to reports was not registered under his name,” reports Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS-UK) in a Press Release.

Bhatti denies the charges imposed on him, reports CLASS.

Nasir Saeed, director CLAAS-UK told Global Christian News, “It is very unfortunate that even though there was not enough evidence against Bhatti, instead of freeing him the court has sentenced him to life imprisonment because of pressure from Islamists.

“The lower court’s judges always hesitate to make decisions on the merit, or free people accused of blasphemy, and instead transfer their burden to the higher court without realising how their decision will impact the accused and their families’ lives,” he declared.

Bhatti was arrested and kept in Adiala central Jail Rawalpindi since 2012. His case was conducted on 24 April in the jail itself due to threat on his life and judgement pronounced on 3 May by the Additional Sessions judge.

Saeed said that, “Usually courts hand down a death sentence to those who are charged under 295-C, but because there was no concrete evidence against Bhatti, he was sentenced to life imprisonment instead.”

CLAAS, has decided to move to the Lahore High Court challenging the decision of the lower court.

Even after the lawyers’ bar in Islamabad had passed a resolution in 2012 that no lawyer would represent Bhatti, CLASS stepped forward and took up his case.

“CLAAS has also been supporting his family since he has been in prison, and his children are going to school,” added Saeed.