PAKISTAN: POLICEMAN KILLS CHRISTIAN ACCUSED OF BLASPHEMY
September 25, 2014: A Pakistani policeman shot two men in jail, killing one accused of blasphemy and wounding another condemned to death on the same charge, lawyers and an activist said. Christian pastor Zafar Bhatti was killed and 70-year-old Briton Muhammad Asghar, who has a history of mental illness, was wounded in the attack in Rawalpindi, next to the capital, Islamabad. Bhatti, who worked to protect the human rights of the country's beleaguered Christian minority, was on trial after an Islamic leader accused him in 2012 of sending text messages derogatory to the Prophet Mohammed's mother. His family say police investigations show the phone was registered to someone else.
In recent weeks, Bhatti had received death threats in prison from both inmates and guards, his family told Pakistan-based human rights group Life for All. He was being held in the same cell as Asghar.
"This is a barbaric act. There had been threats. The court should have instructed police to ensure Bhatti's safety," said Xavier Williams of Life for All.
"Killing of a person who was falsely accused is mockery of the judicial system. The protectors of the innocent have become the predators."
Those accused of blasphemy are often lynched and lawyers in defending those accused of blasphemy cases have frequently been attacked. Judges have been attacked for dismissing cases and many of the accused face years in jail as their trials drag on.
At least 48 people accused of blasphemy have been extrajudicially killed, including seven in prison or outside court, according to Life for All. (Sources: Reuters, 25/09/2014)