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Pakistanis convicted for Christian’s death
Jeff M. Sellers/Compass Direct News
July 29, 2011

Pakistanis convicted for Christian’s death

Pakistanis convicted for Christian’s death
Jeff M. Sellers/Compass Direct News
July 29, 2011

LOS ANGELES (BP) — Three Muslims convicted of killing a

Christian in Pakistan’s Punjab Province for refusing to convert to Islam have

been given life sentences, attorneys for the European Centre for Law and

Justice (ECLJ) have told Compass Direct News.

Ghulam Rasool, Amjad Iqbal and Kashir Saleem were convicted on July 7 for

torturing and killing Rasheed Masih on March

9, 2010, and were sentenced by a court in Mian Channu to life in

prison, which in Pakistan

is 25 years, Compass reported July 22. The court also ordered each convict to

pay 100,000 rupees (US$1,153) to Masih’s family. A fourth suspect, Muhammad

Asif, was acquitted.

“The ECLJ also plans to file an appeal in the Lahore High Court concerning the

acquittal of the fourth defendant,” said Asif Aqeel, director of the

Lahore-based ECLJ-supported Community Development Initiative. “The callous

treatment by the police presented lots of challenges in proving that Masih was

killed by the defendants. However, extensive work by our legal team in Pakistan

and in the United States

resulted in a conviction for the three defendants in this case.”

Masih’s family said they are grateful to ECLJ attorneys for assisting the court

in making its judgments.

Muslim businessmen were jealous of 36-year-old Rasheed Masih’s success as a

potato merchant in Mian Channu district because he was a Christian, Ageel told

Compass in relaying the account of Masih’s brother Asi. When Rasheed Masih met

with the defendants at their farmhouse to discuss business on March 9, 2010, they asked him to

convert to Islam. When he refused, the four Muslims beat him to death with iron

rods.

A bystander informed Asi Masih, who then called police, according to the

account relayed by Ageel.

Police officers along with the victim’s

brother found the bloodied Masih and rushed him to a hospital, but he died on

the way after stating to police that he was tortured by Rasool and his

accomplices.

Police, however, denied that Masih ever gave such a statement and refused to

charge or arrest the defendants, Aqeel said. A large number of Christians

blocked an inter-city highway and demanded that the killers be arrested. Police

conceded after the Christian community’s five-hour protest.

Iqbal Masih of the Mian Channu Parish of the Church

of Pakistan told Compass last year

that Rasheed Masih was a devoted Christian, and that both he and his brother

Asi had refused Muslim pressure to convert to Islam. The Muslims had been

threatening both brothers for six months before the murder, according to Asi

Masih.

A hospital autopsy by conducted in Mian Channu revealed 24 wounds to Masih’s

body, according to a copy of the report obtained by Compass.

The website of the European Centre for Law and Justice, headquartered in Strasbourg,

France, described the

ECLJ as an international non-governmental organization dedicated to the

promotion and protection of human rights in Europe and

worldwide. It was founded by Jay Sekulow and Thomas Patrick Monaghan of the American

Center for Law and Justice in 1998.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Sellers writes for Compass Direct News, based in Santa

Ana, Calif.)