Pakistani Christian Couple Sentenced to Death over Alleged Blasphemy Claims They Were Tortured into Admitting Crime
A Christian couple in eastern Pakistan given the death sentence claims they were tortured into admitting that they sent blasphemous text messages to an Islamic cleric.
Shafqat Emmanuel, who is paralyzed from the waist down, said he could not continue watching his wife Shagufta Kausar being tortured, so he was forced to confess to sending the blasphemous texts. The couple was found guilty in 2013 and was sentenced to death, according to Christian Today.
"There is no man who can stand to see his wife being tortured by police," Emmanuel told lawyers from aid organizations. "So to save my wife, I confessed."
In July 2013, the local imam Maulvi Mohammed Hussain complained that Emmanuel used Kausar's cellphone to send him a message that insulted the Prophet Mohammed, the Daily Mail reports.
The couple, who has four children, said they did not send the blasphemous texts and said they had lost the cellphone that was used to send the said messages. They also said the SIM card inside the handset was not theirs, the report details.
Farukh Saif, an official from the World Vision in Progress, said there is no proof that the Christian couple's cellphone was the one used to send the messages. The phone was stolen from them even before the imam lodged the complaint against them, and the SIM card found was not under their names. He added that the only evidence presented was a bill for a SIM card bought from a shop owner.
The couple has appealed their case at the Lahore High Court and Shafqat is seeking bail because of his failing health, the report adds.
So far, no one in Pakistan charged of blasphemy has been executed. However, those found guilt usually spend life in prison. Those acquitted often become the victim of mob violence. Unfortunately, moves to modify the country's blasphemy law have not been successful.