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The Pakistani Christian on death row, who has had his appeal delayed 70 times

by Marcus Jones
imran Masih.jpg - Banner image
Aid to the Church in Need

The case of Asia Bibi has brought Pakistan's blasphemy laws into the spotlight in recent years.

While she was eventually freed after spending close to a decade in prison waiting for the death penalty, her situation isn't an isolated one.

Imran Masih is one of many who have been accused of insulting Islam, a crime which carries a life sentence.

In 2009, just weeks after Bibi was arrested, he too was taken by police after eyewitnesses claimed he set fire to books containing verses of the Qur'an while he was clearing out his grocery shop in Faisalabad.

His lawyer Khalil Tahir Sandhu claims there were "substantial contradictions" in the statements concerning the date and time of the alleged incident and whether or not they were capable of reading the Arabic script reportedly containing the Quranic text. 

It's been eleven years since he first submitted an appeal petition on behalf of Masih, but he's still waiting for his day in court.

The hearing has been postponed 70 times with the latest court date set for 6th July.

Speaking to charity Aid to the Church in Need, Mr Sandhu said high court justices were reluctant to hold appeal hearings, and sometimes feared for their lives, in case of a hostile reaction from Islamist mobs determined to punish those accused of blasphemy. 

The lawyer said: "I have tried my very best to get justice for Imran and will continue to do so. 

"I remain hopeful that he will be acquitted.

"In our country, what so often happens is that they first arrest the accused and only later do they check the evidence."

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