By BosNewsLife Asia Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– A disabled Christian man and his wife sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy against Islam say their confessions are not valid because they were tortured by police into making them, BosNewsLife learned Wednesday, February 24.
Shafqat Emmanuel and Shagufta Kausar, from Gojra, east Pakistan, were found guilty of sending a text message which authorities said ‘blasphemed’ against the Prophet Mohammed to their local imam in 2013.
They confirmed in published remarks that they have now been sentenced to death under Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws.
The couple, who have four children, denies ever sending the text, saying the phone had been stolen from them months before
the message was supposed to have been sent.
And Emmanuel, who is paralysed from the waist down, told media that the only reason he confessed to the crime was because he could not stand watching his wife be tortured by police.
Rights activists agree with the couple that their alleged confessions were made under duress. “There was no evidence that the text messages came from a phone owned by the couple,” said Farukh Saif, an official of World Vision in Progress giving legal aid to the couple.
Rights groups activists say false accusations of blasphemy are common in Pakistan and observers say laws are often abused for personal gain, to settle scores, or to incite religious hatred against minority communities.
Emmanuel reportedly filed an appeal against his blasphemy conviction in the Lahore High Court, but that could be a lengthy process.