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Pakistan court orders judicial inquiry into Christian brothers’ murder

A memorial service is conducted for the murdered Christian brothers

On Wednesday, July 21, 2010, Lahore High Court Chief Justice, Khwaja Mohammad Sharif, ordered a judicial inquiry into the murder of two Christian brothers on the premises of the Faisalabad district courts, DAWN, Pakistan’s English daily newspaper has reported.

The brothers, Rashid Emmanuel, 30, and his brother Sajid, 27, who both faced blasphemy charges that they had denied, were being taken out of the court by policemen on Monday, June 19, 2010, when they were gunned down by masked men. A police official was also injured.

According to DAWN, the Chief Justice issued the order at the request of the Punjab government and Faisalabad Labour Court District and Sessions Judge, Sheikh Mohammad Yousaf, has been appointed to conduct the inquiry.

The story said that Faisalabad Regional Police Officer (RPO), Aftab Ahmad Cheema, submitted a report during the suo motu [where a government agency acts on its own cognizance] hearing of the incident by the Chief Justice.

The newspaper said that the RPO had admitted that the incident had taken place because of negligence and inefficiency of police officers who had been asked to make stringent security arrangements.

It quoted the RPO as saying that the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Ashique Ali, and the Inspector in Charge of [the] Investigation, Mohammad Hussain, had been transferred and criminal and departmental actions were being initiated against them for ignoring the directives about providing protection to the accused.

The RPO told DAWN that police had got a lead and that “the killers would be apprehended soon.”

According to DAWN, the Chief Justice said it was unfortunate that because of police negligence people were taking the law into their own hands and not waiting for the results of cases pending in courts. The suo motu case was disposed of.

The newspaper said that the federal government has directed provincial governments to provide extra security to “under trial blasphemy accused people” to protect them from extra-judicial killing.

The Federal Minister for Minorities Affairs, Shahbaz Bhatti, told DAWN that a communication had been sent to all provincial governments to protect the lives of those accused of blasphemy.

“They should be provided protection in jails as well as on the occasion of their production before trial courts,” he said.

DAWN quoted Mr. Bhatti as saying that nobody would be allowed to resort to the law of the jungle and kill innocent people on the basis of false accusations.

According to DAWN, Mr. Bhatti had said that it was the job of courts to try the accused and decide the case in accordance with the provisions of the law.
The newspaper said that Mr. Bhatti earlier told a press conference that there were plans to introduce amendment to obviate the possibility of the misuse of the blasphemy law.

Christians carry one of the caskets for burial

It quoted him as saying that those who put the life of someone in danger by leveling a false charge of blasphemy should also be punished.

According to the newspaper Mr. Bhatti urged Pakistani society to “play its role” to bring an end to misuse of the blasphemy law.

Mr. Bhatti told DAWN that his government ministry would draft a summary for legislation against hate literature and hate speech.

The minister told DAWN that a hotline would soon be established at the ministry to provide swift access to justice to people belonging to religious minorities who are feeling insecure.

Mr. Bhatti told DAWN that the 24-hour hotline would be connected with police stations, hospitals and other relevant places.

On the Faisalabad incident, the minister told DAWN that investigations were in progress and expressed the hope that the killers would be arrested on the basis of the clues.

According to DAWN, Mr. Bhatti said the probe would take view of various aspects of the case, such as who printed the literature, who instigated violence and who provided shelter to the accused.

Meanwhile, Sharing Life Ministry Pakistan has cited police sources as saying that a Muslim man named Rana Maqsood has been arrested in connection with killing of Christian brothers in Faisalabad. This has yet to be confirmed by ANS.

Dan Wooding, Assist News Service

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