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Pakistani court overturns Christian couple’s death sentence over blasphemy



A Pakistani court has overturned the death sentence handed to a Christian couple for alleged blasphemy of Prophet Mohammad and Islam, acquitting them for lack of evidence after they had spent seven years on death row.

A lower court had, in 2014, sentenced Shafqat Emmanuel and his wife, Shagufta Kausar, to death for allegedly sending derogatory remarks about Prophet Mohammed in a text message to another man, Khalid Maqsood.

The couple’s lawyer, Saif-ul-Malook, in a statement on Monday, said the Lahore High Court had acquitted the couple in the case in the central town of Toba Tek Singh.

Prosecution lawyer, Ghulam Mustafa Chaudhry, also said the prosecution would employ all available remedies against the decision.

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Insulting the prophet carries a mandatory death penalty in the predominantly Muslim country while Pakistan’s blasphemy laws have long been criticized by global rights groups.

“Today’s decision puts an end to the seven-year long ordeal of a couple who should not have been convicted nor faced a death sentence in the first place,” Amnesty International’s South Asia Deputy Director Dinushika Dissanayake said in a statement, calling on authorities to provide security to the couple and their lawyer.

By Isaac Dachen

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