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
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
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
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