Christian receives life sentence in Pakistan for blasphemy

Associated Press, Apr. 26, 2003

MULTAN, Pakistan (April 26, 9:58 p.m. ADT) – A court in Pakistan has sentenced a Christian to life in prison for blasphemy, police officials said Sunday.

Ranjah Maseih was convicted Saturday in a court in Faisalabad, 170 miles northeast of Multan, in Pakistan’s eastern Punjab province, police official Nazir Ahmed said.

The defendant was arrested on May 8, 1998, after he allegedly damaged a neon sign depicting a verse from the Quran, the Muslim holy book, at a rally to mourn the death of a Catholic clergymen.

The maximum penalty for Pakistan’s blasphemy is death. Maseih’s attorney Khalil Sindhu said he would appeal the conviction and sentence.

International and Pakistani human rights groups say the nation’s blasphemy laws are easily abused and unfair because the accused have the burden to prove their innocence.

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