Anti-terror court hands death sentence to blasphemy accused

    An anti-terrorism court in Peshawar has handed a Muslim man death and imprisonment sentence on multiple counts for allegedly committing blasphemy and other religion-related offences on social media.

    The convict was also fined Rs1.2 million, according to a report.

    It stated that the judge declared that the prosecution had “fully” proved its case against the accused, a resident of Mardan, and that the evidence available on record connected him with the commission of the offences.

    As the matter was sensitive, the accused was tried inside the Peshawar Central Prison, where he had been kept since his arrest in 2021, the report stated.

    The accused was booked by the FIA Counter-Terrorism Wing, Islamabad, on Oct 27, 2021, under the Pakistan Penal Code’s sections 295-A (insulting religious beliefs), 295-C (use of derogatory remarks in respect of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and 298-A (derogatory remarks in respect of holy personages), the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act’s Section 20 (offences against the dignity of a person) and Section 22 (child pornography), and Section 7(1)(g) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (incitement of hatred on sectarian and religious basis).

    The complainant in the case was a resident of Punjab’s Talagang district.

    He had lodged a complaint with the FIA Counter Terrorism Wing Islamabad wherein he had charged the accused of uploading blasphemous content on social media forums, including a WhatsApp group.

    He alleged that the accused had also been sharing malicious content against holy personalities of Islam on social media.

    Advocate Ibrar Hussain appeared for the complainant and contended that an inquiry was initially conducted by the FIA wherein it was proved that the accused had committed the offence. He argued that the investigation team had seized the accused’s phone and SIM card used for the offences.

    The court awarded the accused death sentence and Rs300,000 fine under Section 295-C of the PPC, 10 years rigorous imprisonment and Rs200,000 fine under Section 295-A of the PPC, three years rigorous imprisonment and Rs100,000 fine under Section 298-A of the PPC, five years rigorous imprisonment and Rs200,000 fine under Section 7(1)(g) of the ATA, two years rigorous imprisonment and Rs200,000 fine under Section 20 of the Peca, and three years rigorous imprisonment and Rs200,000 fine under Section 22 of the Peca.

    It ruled that all sentences would run concurrently.

    The convict was also given the benefit of Section 382-B of the Code of Criminal Procedure under which the period of his detention prior to conviction will be counted as the jail term.

    The court also declared that the death sentence to the accused would be subject to the decision of any appeal or revision.

    In November last year, an anti-terrorism court convicted a man for blasphemy and other offences on social media and handed down the death sentence and a collective fine of Rs1.6 million to him.

    The convict’s appeal against the sentences is pending with the Peshawar High Court.

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