London: Nabeel Masih was 16 years old boy arrested for blasphemy on 18th September 2016 and had an original application for bail rejected while being supported by another charity. The frightened teenager was confronted by a mob of 80 Muslims baying for his blood and calling for him to be lynched for his alleged blasphemy. No arrests were made of any of the men who were inciting violence.
BACA took over the legal challenge two years ago and supported his family through a very difficult process and periods of dangerous threats from his accusers and their cohorts.
Nabeel Masih was the youngest blasphemy convict in Pakistan was arrested under charges of blasphemy after being implicated for posting a derogatory image of Islam's most sacred site the pillar of Kabaah on social media site facebook.
An initial legal team asserted that as a juvenile with no previous history of criminal activity, Nabeel Masih should be granted bail. However a magistrate at Kasur Magistrates court ignominiously rejected the plea on 7th February 2018. At that point he had served two years in prison without conviction. Nabeel was finally sentenced to ten years in prison by Session Court Judge Naveed Iqbal on 17th May 2018, at Kasur Magistrates Court.
The previous Christian defence team also stated that the Muslim prosecution lawyers had been intimidating them during previous hearings. They were warned in no uncertain terms that during court proceedings in a Muslim country it was dangerous to protect a blasphemer.
BACA then took on the legal case for Nabeel Maish which everyone else thought was impossible to win - we kept our faith in God:
After close to three years in prison Nabeel Masih now 20 years old asked BACA to take over his case. He was devastated over his ongoing incarceration and was desperate to restart his life which he felt was slipping away every day that he remained in a cell. We begun to pursue his freedom via Lahore High Court and hired a Christian solicitor Naseeb Anjum to challenge for his freedom initial seeking bail before we began the longer proceeding for full acquittal. We reasoned that the quicker process of a bail application would enable Nabeel to be freed from his incarceration sooner, enabling him to tackle his suicidal depression and face the challenge of a long battle for exoneration in a position of strength.
Though initially charges under lower blasphemy offences had been laid against Nabeel Masih, Pattoki Police were building a case for charges under 295/C that would enact a death sentence. Moreover, they were also establishing a list of cyber crimes against Nabeel Masih, an action which was perceived to be a safety net prosecution, should public and international pressure result in the dropping of blasphemy charges against Nabeel.
Fortunately for Nabel Masih the additional charges were thrown out of court due to a lack of evidence and a stringent fight by our BACA appointed lawyer.
This morning at 9am in Lahore High Court Judge Javaid Gaddal ordered the release of Nabeel Masih on bail based on no evidence that he had committed the crime. Our solicitor had submitted strong forensic evidence that proved the post which contained the blasphemous text on his Facebook profile had not been posted or created by Nabeel Masih.
Advocate Naseeb Anjum, said:
"Freedom for Nabeel Masih is only the first battle.
"Now we must pursue a full acquittal and I am confident we will succeed."
Juliet Chowdhry, trustee of British Asian Christian Association, said:
"His freedom gives me a sense of great pleasure but it is steeped in sorrow.
"This young man has lost many of his most important years of development."
"He has had to fight the depression that threatened to consume him keeping suicide at bay by batting it with scriptural verses from the Holy Bible.
"Imprisonment for a crime he did not commit at such a young age will have left him scarred emotionally and he will need to begin what will be a long term recovery.
"He should be compensated for his false conviction to help him restore his life and we will pursue this for him.
"We call on Christians everywhere to pray for him as we continue the battle."
Nabeel Masih will be set free in 3 days. Later today we will be posting a video comment from his family who are elated at the good news.