Business Standard

Aasia Bibi's lawyer to defend Pakistani couple on death row

IANS  |  Islamabad 

The case of a Christian couple on death row in after being convicted of has reportedly been taken up by the who defended Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman who was cleared of charges after spending eight years on death row.

and were accused of sending blasphemous text messages to a Muslim man. They were sentenced to death, but have appealed to the high court in Lahore, reported on Wednesday.

Saiful Malook, who briefly fled after receiving death threats when Bibi's conviction for was overturned last October, is to appeal against the couple's 2014 conviction under the same law.

According to Malook, Kousar is being held in the same cell in which was imprisoned before being moved into protective custody after her sentence was overturned.

The couple, who have four children, are from Gojra, province, where Kousar was employed as a cleaner at a church school. A Muslim man in the city complained to officials at his mosque that he was sent blasphemous messages in English on his phone, and the complaint was passed on to the police.

Kousar and Masih were arrested and charged with "insulting the Quran" and "insulting the Prophet".

Musih, who is disabled, admitted sending the messages but later said he his confession was made under duress, as he feared for his wife's safety.

The couple are illiterate and have argued they could not send text messages in English. They also said the sim card used to send the text messages was bought in Kousar's name after her identity card was stolen.

"They did not get a fair trial. They are innocent," Malook said.

Wilson Chowdhry, of the which campaigned for Bibi's release, said Kousar and Masih's case was part of a "worrying trend of Christians accused for derogatory text messages and social media postings", reported.

Malook fled to the in fear for his life after Islamic extremists launched violent protests when Bibi's conviction was overturned, but later returned to

Bibi, a former farm labourer who spent eight years on death row before being freed, arrived in last week where she was reunited with her family. Her case drew international attention, and two high-profile political figures were assassinated after supporting and calling for reform of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.

Christians make up only 1.59 per cent of Pakistan's population of more than 200 million, but about half of those accused of blasphemy in the country are non-Muslims.



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First Published: Wed, May 15 2019. 11:40 IST