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Pakistan: 5 Sentenced to Death in Mob Slaying of Christian Couple, Unborn Baby

“Although as Catholics we reject the death penalty, we believe it is important that a court acted promptly, in just two years, and punished the culprits”

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The Fides agency reported that a Lahore anti-terrorism court has sentenced five people to death for the killing of Shahbaz Masih, 26, and Shama Bibi, 24, killed in the Punjab province in November of 2014.
The couple was accused of having committed blasphemy. The couple, who were working in a brick kiln, were first tortured and then burnt alive in the furnace. The two left three children who are now living with their maternal grandfather.
Among the five sentenced to death, one is a Muslim religious. The judge also ordered a fine of 200,000 rupees for each of the convicted and imposed a two- year imprisonment sentence to eight other defendants involved.
Michelle Chaudhry, president of the “Cecil Chaudhry & Iris Foundation,” an organization that today deals with the legal protection and education of the three orphaned children of the couple, told Fides: “Justice is done. Although as Catholics we reject the death penalty, we believe it is important that a court acted promptly, in just two years, and punished the culprits. It is a sign of maturity of the Pakistani judicial system that respects the rights and demands for justice for everyone, including religious minorities who often suffer unpunished violence. The government of Pakistan must ensure safety and security to every single citizen of Pakistan regardless of faith, as enshrined in the Constitution”.
Chaudhry concludes: “Shama and Shahzad are two innocent people who were killed because of hatred and intolerance. In that furnace humanity, the teachings of Islam and the democratic Pakistan of Ali Jinnah were burned”.
The two were killed by a crowd of more than 600, instigated by the religious leaders of the area, although they continued to proclaim their innocence.
About 40 suspects, including the owner of the kiln, were arrested the day after the murder.
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often abused and used for vengeance.
[Report adapted from Fides]

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