Friday, March 31, 2017

Pakistan: 42 Christians accused of murder 'told they will be acquitted if they convert to Islam'


They were told their acquittal was 'guaranteed' if they renounced Christianity - despite one of the accused insisting he would rather be hanged that convert.

Times of Ahmad | News Watch | UK Desk
Source/Credit: Mail Online
By  Ekin Karasin | March 13, 2016

The 42 Christians who were accused of lynching two Muslims in Pakistan have reportedly been told they will be acquitted if they convert to Islam.

The group have been charged with murdering two men after suicide blasts targeted two churches in the heavily Christian area of Youhanabad, Lahore, in March 2015.

They were allegedly told their acquittal was 'guaranteed' if they renounced Christianity - despite one of the accused insisting he would rather be hanged that convert.

Rights activist Joseph Franci is legally assisting the accused during the trial at an anti-terrorism court.

He said Deputy District Public Prosecutor Syed Anees Shah made the acquittal offer, The Express Tribune reported.

'He asks them if they embrace Islam, he can guarantee them their acquittal in this case,' Franci told the Pakistani newspaper.

Franci claimed the Christians were shocked - with one even saying he was ready to be hanged if he was forced to embrace Islam.

Naseeb Anjum Advocate, counsel for some of the accused, claimed the prosecutor Shah had made the same offer six months ago but it was ignored.

'They [lawyers] believe in independence of the court, but why is the DDPP blackmailing them?' he said.

'The government should get rid of such elements that bring bad name to the state by such acts.'

The newspaper claimed Shah denied the claims when he was first contacted.

It alleged that when he was told there was footage of him offering the acquittal deal, conceded that he may have 'offered them a choice'.

Bombs outside two churches in the Pakistani city of Lahore killed 14 people and wounded nearly 80 during Sunday Mass in March 2015.

Witnesses said quick action by a security guard prevented many more deaths.

Many in Youhanabad's mostly Christian community are said to have believed the two men were involved in planning the bombings.


Read original post here: Pakistan: 42 Christians accused of murder 'told they will be acquitted if they convert to Islam'


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