Man gets death for blasphemy after video trial
* Defence counsel says he will appeal against decision
LAHORE: An additional district and sessions judge on Wednesday sentenced a blasphemy accused, Younis Masih, to death after a video jail trial. The court also fined him Rs 100,000.
Factory Area police had registered a blasphemy case under Section 295 C of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) against Masih on September 10, 2005, after he had allegedly made derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) at a Qawali function on September 9, 2005.
The accused challenged the whole legal process in his case and said that the investigation against him was illegal. He said that according to the law, a police officer below the rank of superintendent of police (SP) could not conduct investigation in a blasphemy case, but a sub-inspector (SI) had conducted the investigation in This case, which made the whole process illegal. He requested that the case against him be quashed.
During the proceedings, the accused was sitting in a special room at Kot Lakhpat Jail and the judge sat in a room at the Sessions Court where he recorded the evidence. The accused was seen in the court on a screen. This was the first video trial in a blasphemy case in the country.
Defence counsel Pervez Aslam Chaudhry said the trial had been arranged at the jail due to security issues, adding that all evidence in the case were also recorded through video.
The lawyer of the accused said that Christians had arranged a spiritual gathering at Chungi Ammarsidhu in September 9, 2005, at which a neighbour, Abdul Aziz, also a complainant in the case, had objected and demanded that they perform Islamic rituals instead of Christian rites. The argument turned hot during which, the complainant alleged that the accused had used the derogatory remarks.
The lawyer said that the case had not been investigated at the proper forum. He contended that the offence required investigation by an officer not below the rank of SP under section 156-A of the Criminal Procedure Code. Chaudhry said he would appeal against the decision.
The court also directed the police to provide security to the lawyer because he had been receiving threats during the trial.
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