Pakistan acquits Christian couple facing death for blasphemy

The pair had been sentenced for allegedly insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Saiful+Malook

B.K. BANGASH / Associated Press

Pakistani lawyer Saiful Malook, left, leaves the Pakistan Supreme Court in 2018.

MUNIR AHMED, Associated Press

ISLAMABAD — A Pakistani appeals court Thursday acquitted a Christian couple sentenced to death on blasphemy charges for allegedly insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, their defense lawyer said.
Shagufta Kausar and her husband, Shafqat Emmanuel, from the country’s eastern Punjab province were arrested in 2013 and tried on suspicion of sending a blasphemous text message to a local cleric in Punjab.
On Thursday, the Lahore High Court overturned the death sentence and ordered the couple released. They had been on death row in two separate prisons, and would be freed after all the paperwork was done, said their lawyer, Saiful Malook.
“I fought a legal battle for this innocent couple for years,” Malook told The Associated Press. “I am happy that justice has been done to this poor wife and her husband.”
Domestic and international rights groups say blasphemy allegations have often been used to intimidate religious minorities in Pakistan and settle personal scores.

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