A court in Pakistan acquitted a Christian man Tuesday who had been sentenced to death after being charged with blasphemy more than six years ago.
According to local media Sawan Masih was given the death penalty by the Lahore High Court after allegedly insulting the Prophet Muhammad while talking with a Muslim friend in the Joseph Christian colony of the city of Lahore. After a trial period that stretched over a year, he was convicted of the offense in March of 2014. The Lahore court headed by Justice Syed Shehbaz Ali Rizvi also ordered Masih to be released from custody after its verdict, according to International Christian Concern (ICC), an international persecution watchdog. Masih was accused by his Muslim friend, Muhammad Shahid, of insulting the Prophet Muhammad during a conversation on March 7, 2013. Two days later after he was accused, local mosques implicated Masih with the insult over their PA systems, inciting mob violence. A mob of more than 3,000 enraged Muslims attacked the Joseph Colony, looting and burning approximately 180 Christian homes, 75 shops, and at least two churches, according to the ICC. After the mob’s attack, Masih was arrested and detained by the police and charged with Section 295-C of Pakistan’s Penal Code. Almost a year later, he was sentenced to death in a trial held at the Lahore Camp Jail by officials citing security concerns.
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