A court in Bahawalpur, Pakistan on Tuesday (May 30) handed the death penalty to a 22-year-old Christian on an unsubstantiated conviction under the country’s blasphemy laws, Morning Star News reported.
Lazar Allah Rakha, attorney for Noman Masih, said that the sessions court announced its verdict at the New Central Jail Bahawalpur, in Punjab Province, though the prosecution failed to provide evidence of the blasphemy charge against him.
‘Absolutely no case’
“I’m extremely disappointed by the conviction, because there was absolutely no case,” Rakha told Morning Star News. “There was no proof against Noman, and none of the witnesses produced by police could corroborate the blasphemy allegation against him.”
Masih’s trial concluded in January, but the court repeatedly postponed the verdict on various pretexts, Rakha said. Masih was convicted of blaspheming Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, which carries a mandatory death sentence under Section 295-C of Pakistan’s blasphemy statutes.
Appealing the decision
The attorney said the court would issue its written verdict soon, after which he would file an appeal against the conviction with the Bahawalpur Bench of the Lahore High Court within the mandatory seven-day period.
Regarding the status of a separate blasphemy case against Noman in Bahawalnagar, Rakha said the trial had concluded and the court was expected to announce a verdict in June.
Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, up from eighth the previous year.