Pakistani Christian leader urges LHC to hold blasphemy victim trials in prisons
28 Nov 2012
Karachi: November 28, 2012. (PCP) The family of a young Pakistani Christian man, Khuram Shahzad, also known as Khuram Masih,
was accused of blasphemy and granted bail on 22 October 2012 from the High Court. He had been receiving threats and in light of past occurrences of extra-judicial killings in court premises for blasphemy cases, his trial had been conducted in prison instead of court premises.
Two applications filed in the trial court, one for the exemption of in-person attendance and other for acquittal from the false blasphemy charge. On 15 November 2012 Martha Bibi also appeared in the court and the next date of hearing has been fixed for 8 December 2012. A last piece of evidence remains to be presented before the court and the witness has to be called in through the Punjab IG, for cross examination. She is reportedly terrified and has been threatened repeatedly. Martha and her husband Boota Masih told Advocate Sardar Mushtaq M.Gill , LEAD Chief and President PCC Lahore that they were very upset and suffering the agony of trial with fear and remained under threat while appearing in the trial court.
On 17 November 2012 Khuram also appeared in court and the next date of hearing for the two applications has been fixed for 1st December 2012. His family reported that Khuram was not allowed to leave his house for work and remained locked in the house. His father despaired on how long they could hide their son this way.
The same judge would preside over these two cases and the complainants lawyers are also the same, due to which tensions have been doubled.
Mr. Saleem Khursheed Khokhar said that those who have been accused of blasphemy in the past have always been subject to harassment, threats, and attacks. Police, lawyers, and judges may also be subject to harassment, threats, and attacks when blasphemy is an issue.
Those accused of blasphemy are subject to immediate incarceration, and most accused are denied bail to forestall mob violence.
It is common for those accused of blasphemy to be put in solitary confinement for their protection from other inmates and guards. Those who have served a sentence for blasphemy and those acquitted usually go into hiding or leave Pakistan.
He said a victim of Blasphemy namely Manzoor Masih was also killed in the court premises. He stressed that this practice should be stopped.