Christian has life sentence for blasphemy changed to death penalty
A Christian man sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of sending a blasphemous text message in 2011 has had his sentence changed to the death penalty.
The Lahore High Court ruled in favour of an appeal submitted by Islamist group Khatam-e-Nabuwwat Forum (KNF, or Movement for the Finality of the Prophethood).
Sajjad Masih’s appeal against conviction has been pending with the Lahore High Court for the last seven years.
According to reports, after handing down the more severe sentence, the court sent his appeal to a division bench.
Masih was jailed for life in July 2013 for sending an allegedly blasphemous text message to a Muslim in December 2011.
During the appeal, the KNF told the judge capital punishment was the only sentence for blasphemy.
The group, along with other Islamist organisations apply pressure on the courts to deal with those accused it blasphemy in the harshest way.
However, false accusations of blasphemy to settle personal scores or out of religious hatred are common in Pakistan.
Vigilantes can also take matters into their own hands when they believe blasphemy has been committed, sometimes killing the alleged perpetrator before due legal process has been followed.