Pak Court clears all accused in church attack case

Lahore [Pakistan], Sept. 3 : A court has cleared all the 46 people accused of attacking a church and houses of Christians in a neighbourhood near Lahore's Sanda police station over faulty investigation and prosecution.

Reports suggest that the mob had attacked the Christian neighbourhood after accusing one of the residents of blasphemy.

Anti-Terrorism Court Judge Aaqib Nazir, in his 17-page judgement, wrote that prosecution had failed to prove charges against the accused and ordered the release of Liaqat, one of the accused who had been in police custody, reports the Express Tribune.

Another accused Muhammad Intizar was declared proclaimed offender as he did not turn up before the court.

Twenty-one suspects were declared innocent while the rest were set free by the court yesterday. Nearly 800 people had broken the gate of Saint Joseph Church in Dhup Sari and ransacked the building. First Information Report under Sections 295, 295-A, 436, 452, 395, 353, 337-F1, 337-A1 and 148 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act were registered against them on the complaint of a police official on May 24, 2015.

During the incident, DIG (Operations) Haider Ashraf and Millat Park SHO Naveed Akmal were injured. The judge also noted that the police had committed serious blunders in the investigation, adding no one from the aggrieved community had appeared before the court.

Two Christian witnesses, who appeared before the court, vouched for the accused and denied their involvement in the incident.

Two prosecution witnesses Constable Mumtaz Hussain and Constable Arif Hussain were declared hostile by the prosecution.

Meanwhile, advocate Nadim Anthony, a council member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, criticised the judgment and said it was the outcome of a faulty justice system.

"How a Christian can appear before court when he has no protection? Christians and Ahmadis are the most vulnerable segments in our society and avoid recording statements against Muslims because they fear backlash," he said.

Source: ANI