February 5, 2016
Defense lawyers for a Seventh-day Adventist believer serving a life sentence under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy laws were threatened by gunmen while traveling to an appeals hearing in the High Court of Lahore.
The two lawyers were detained on the road between Kasur and Lahore by armed men who warned of violence if the lawyers persisted in their defense of Sajjad Masih Gill, 31, the ACI Prensa news agency reported.
Masih, an Adventist Church member, was convicted in 2013 of sending text messages defaming the prophet Mohammad, an allegation that he has consistently denied.
He was found guilty despite a trial defined by controversy and irregularities. In the course of the prosecution, Masih’s original accuser retracted his allegations, and the prosecutor failed to produce any evidence of wrongdoing. At the time, Masih’s defense lawyer, Javed Sahotra, said that intense pressure by extremists played a decisive role in obtaining a conviction despite the lack of evidence.