Dubai: A man who was on a death row in a blasphemy case was aquitted on wednesday by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for lack of evidence. However, the decision came after he spent 18-years in jail in the case dated back to 2002.
A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, exonerated Wajih-ul-Hassan from blasphemy charges for want of concrete evidence against him. In Pakistan, those convicted of balsphemy get death sentence.
The court observed that the prosecution had failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the letters, which became the basis of blasphemy allegations against the accused Hassan, were actually written by him, and consequently rejected the case.
This is yet another blasphemy case which came to limelight after the Chirtisian woman Asia Bibi’s blasphemy case which attracted international attention.
The Supreme Court last year acquitted Aasia Bibi who was accused of blasphemy in 2010 and sentenced to death. . The then chief justice Mian Saqib Nisar had set aside the Lahore High Court (LHC) verdict and directed the authorities to release Aasia Bibi from prison.
On Oct 31, 2018, the court had ruled that it was not for individuals or a gathering (mob) to decide whether any act falling within the purview of Section 295-C (the blasphemy act) had been committed or not because it was the court’s mandate to make such decisions after conducting a fully qualified trial on the basis of credible evidence. He release created quite a stir in Pakistan’s extremist Islamic groups but the government protected Asia Bibi who finally flew out of Pakistan after being released for fear of her life.
In the latest case, the Supreme Court acquitted Hassan on the grounds that the ‘extra-judicial confession’ and corroboratory evidence — the handwriting expert’s report — were always considered weak evidence under the law and since there were no direct witness, the apex court had no option but to order release of the accused after exonerating him from all charges, Dawn news reported.
Currently, the accused is imprisoned in Kot Lakhpath Jail, Lahore, since the trial court had sentenced him to death and 10-year jail term.
Meanwhile, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has tweeted welcoming the Pakistan Supreme Court’s acquittal of Wajeehul Hassan.