All 115 people accused of torching the Christian Community of St Joseph’s Colony have been acquitted


Over 125 homes were razed to the ground and two churches when a Muslim mob of thousands first ransacked Christian properties and then set them alight on
March 8th 2013, at St Joseph’s Colony, Badami Bagh near Lahore (click here for full story).

The mob had been incensed by several local mosques who had used their public tannoys to preach revenge against a Christian man named Sawan Masih, who
it was alleged said some blasphemous remarks against Muhammed, during a heated discussion with a Muslim.

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

Masih has also applied for a formal appeal against his death sentence for blasphemy.

At Lahore’s Anti Terrorism Court on Sunday 29th January 2017, defence lawyer Ghulam Murtaza Chaudhry argued that there was insufficient evidence to
prosecute any of the 115 men accused of torching Joseph Colony. 

He said:

“The state witnesses could not identify the accused and their statements were also contradictory. 

“The prosecution have failed to provide any “single evidence” to establish the charges against my clients.

“the prosecution has lingered on this case for more than three years but could not come up with any solid evidence against the suspects. The court should acquit the suspects because of want for proof.”

A prosecution lawyer argued the evidence provided by the prosecution team is enough to convict the suspects. He also said:

“This incident not only spread a wave of terrorism in Lahore but also brought a bad to name to Pakistan.” 

The judge, however, termed the evidence “insufficient” and acquitted all the suspects.

Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said:  

“I am not shocked by this court decision as it is what we expected.  The only surprise was how long it took to acquit the Muslim men that had perpetrated such a violent crime on Christians.

“Many of the victims of the crime are still homeless and Sawan Masih is still incarcerated by the Pakistani prison service under a false blasphemy charge, which police officers at the time admitted they enacted to prevent further community schism and violence.

“Pakistan’s police and judiciary provide a broken service that is not fit for purpose and is heavily biased against minorities.  What do we all honestly expect but impunity for crimes against Christians.”

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