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112 acquitted after Christian area torched

by Aaron James

It's after more than 125 homes were torched in the Joseph Colony in the city of Lahore in 2013, over rumours a believer had blasphemed against the Prophet Muhammad.

The Christian man, Sawan Masih, was found guilty of blasphemy and sentenced to death in 2014. He denies the claim, saying a friend made up a lie about him to settle a property dispute.

Masih's also formally appealed his death sentence for blasphemy.

Reuters reported defence lawyer Ghulam Murtaza Chaudhry told the court there was insufficient evidence to prosecute any of the 112 men accused of torching Joseph Colony.

He added: "The state witnesses could not identify the accused and their statements were also contradictory."

Christians in Pakistan and around the world have welcomed signals from Pakistani politicians that they will review the country's blasphemy laws, to make sure they're not used to unfairly target Christians.

Examples apart from Sawan Masih include Asia Bibi, the Christian mother-of-five on death row for alleged blasphemy, and the former Punjab governor and Muslim Salman Taseer, who was assassinated by his own bodyguard after publicly opposing the country's blasphemy laws.

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