The Lahore High Court in Rawalpindi has upheld the death sentence already imposed at first instance on two Christian brothers, Qaiser Ayub and Amoon Ayub, in a case of blasphemy charges. And this, despite the total absence of incriminating evidence.
In June 2011, a Muslim man reported to the police blasphemous material against Islam that he had discovered on a blog. The site gave the name, phone number, email address, and office address of the alleged perpetrator: Qaiser Ayub, the eldest of two Christian brothers.
The police filed a complaint against the two brothers and arrested them. Amoon was arrested because the phone number and office address given in the blog were registered in his name. Thus, the two brothers have been in prison since 2011: they are accused of having committed blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad, according to article 295 section C of the Pakistani Penal Code.
The Court of First Instance convicted the two brothers in December 2018, arguing that the presence of the Ayub brothers' contact details on the blasphemous site, and the absence of any attempt on their part to demand that the site administrator remove their contact details, clearly led to the conclusion that they were responsible for the creation of the site.
However, as the lawyers of the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) claim, this is only conjecture, because anyone can create a site and publish the name and address of anyone.
The trial court disregarded the testimony of the two Ayub brothers that there had been an argument with Muslim friends before the blog was published. Amoon believes his brother's Muslim “friends” created the site using the contact details of the two Christians in retaliation. Both men appealed.
The High Court opened the appeal on February 28, 2022. The lawyers pointed out in court that there was no evidence that the two brothers were responsible for the creation of the blog or its content. And the computer crime department confirms that no information could be found about the identity of the person who created the blog.
In the appeal judgment delivered on June 8, the High Court upheld the death sentences of the two, accused of posting blasphemous material on the internet.
A Grotesque Situation
It is completely absurd for a Christian in Pakistan to dare to post anything against Islam or Muhammad on the internet, let alone leave his contact details behind unless as a way of committing suicide.
According to case law, a person can only be convicted in such cases if it is unequivocally proven that the telephone, data carrier, or website was actually used by the accused.
The High Court, however, ignored these arguments and upheld the death sentence. “This is another step backwards for Pakistan, where religious minorities have been imprisoned and killed on false charges of blasphemy for more than three decades,” explains a note sent to Fides by the European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ).
Faced with this case of Christians unjustly sentenced to death for blasphemy, the ECLJ is preparing an appeal to bring the case before the Supreme Court of Pakistan.