Christians accused of murder in Pakistan told 'acquittal is guaranteed' if they convert to Islam

Forty-two Christians accused of murder were allegedly told by a Pakistani public prosecutor he could "guarantee their acquittal" if they renounced their religion and converted to Islam.

Representational image. Courtesy: Reuters

According to a report in The Express Tribune, the Christians were charged with lynching two Pakistani men suspected of being involved in twin blasts in Youhanabad, Lahore, on 15 March, 2015. The blasts targeted Sunday mass in two churches.

"Taking advantage of their presence at ATC-1 Lahore, deputy district public prosecutor Syed Anees Shah gathered the accused outside the courtroom and asked them to embrace Islam," said Joseph Franci, a rights activist, who was involved in providing legal assistance to the accused, told The Express Tribune. "He told them if they embrace Islam, he can guarantee them their acquittal in this case."

According to Franci, the accused were taken back, and one of them, Irfan Masih, reportedly said he'd rather be hanged than embrace Islam.

Advocate Naseeb Anjum, counsel for some of the accused, told The Express Tribune that the public prosecutor had made the same offer to the accused six months ago, but they simply ignored him.

When contacted by The Express Tribune, Shah at first denied asking the accused to embrace Islam. However, when he was told that the accused had a video recording of what he said, he admitted that he simply offered them a choice.

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Updated Date: Mar 30, 2017 15:29:21 IST

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