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  • » 02/16/2010, 00.00


    Christians outraged in Lahore over release of young domestic worker’s murderer

    Fareed Khan

    Angry protests receive judge’s decision to release Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem, charged with the murder of Shazia Bashir. Police, doctors and prosecutors are accused of complicity with the accused. The silence of political and legal authorities is deafening to many on Facebook.
    Lahore (AsiaNews) – Pakistani Christians have strongly protested the release on bail of a Muslim lawyer accused of raping, torturing and killing last month Shazia Bashir, a 12-year-old Catholic girl, employed in his household as domestic worker. They have appealed to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, a symbol of judicial independence in Pakistan, to take immediate action against the court’s decision.

    The girl’s parents (mother pictured) led the protest as demonstrators shouted slogans and carried banners, proclaiming “Innocent Shazia’s blood calls for punishment of a ruthless murderer and corrupt doctors” and “The bail of murderer raises questions for rulers.”

    Last Saturday, Judge Shafiq-ur-Rehman of the Lahore Court released Muhammad Naeem, his wife and son on bail.

    The accused’s lawyer said the girl’s autopsy report did not prove she was murdered, but indicated instead that she had died from an infection caused by old injuries.

    In his opinion, the case was not about murder, especially since 14 days of police investigation did not yield any evidence that would suggest that Muhammad Naeem or any member of his family was involved in the girl’s death.

    The Christian community has rejected the lawyer’s claims as well as the results of the autopsy, pointing out that Shazia’s body showed signs of torture and sexual abuse.

    They claim that the powerful former head of the Lahore Bar Association locked the girl in his house against her will and killed her when she refused to work for him.

    In protest, a group of Christians blocked the road outside the Lahore Press Club, and burnt the picture of a Jinnah Hospital official, whom they accuse of falsifying the girl’s death certificate.

    In two weeks of hearings, Christian lawyers and anyone trying to represent the victim’s family have receive threats and experienced acts of intimidation (see Fareed Khan, “Lahore, Muslim lawyers will ‘burn alive’ anyone who defends murdered 12 year old Christian”).

    Activists have also alleged that defence lawyers, police, judges and government authorities have worked together, coming close to colluding, in order to bury the case.

    The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) and the Human Liberation Commission of Pakistan (HLCP) have organised the Christian protest. Their leaders have complained that in Shazia’s case, justice was assassinated by the powerful machinery of the state, which seeks to save the skin of the murderer, Muhammad Naeem.

    They also blame doctors for playing a shameful role in doctoring the medical report, and police for manipulating the investigation.

    Not only has the appeal against bail reached Supreme Court Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, but it has also seized public opinion, finding its way on online discussion forums and the social network Facebook.

    For many in cyberspace, the silence by the chief justice and the minister of mminorities is deafening.

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    See also

    11/05/2011 PAKISTAN
    Sialkot: Muslim businessman uses blasphemy law against Christian rival
    Gulzar Masih and his son Suleman own a bookstore. They were forced to flee to avoid being attacked by a mob. Both are accused of burning a copy of the Qur‘an. In reality, they were set up by the older Masih’s Muslim business partner, who was envious of their success. Catholic priest bemoans the abuses linked to the ‘black law’ and warns that “extremist elements are getting stronger” in Pakistan.

    15/09/2009 PAKISTAN
    Punjab: young Christian man accused of blasphemy killed in prison
    Fanish, 20, was arrested last Saturday. His death was “judicial murder” according to human rights activist. The day before a Muslim mob attacked members of the dead man’s Christian community, setting fire to their church. Pakistani extremists are funded by Saudi “charities.”

    02/02/2010 PAKISTAN
    Activists warn, the murder of a 12-year-old Christian girl could go unpunished
    The murder of young domestic worker, raped and murdered by her employer, is marred by delays and red tape. The murderer, a rich lawyer from Lahore, is getting a VIP treatment from police. Catholics and members of human rights groups have come out in support of the family and are suing the culprit.

    17/09/2009 PAKISTAN
    Collusion between police and extremists cause of deaths in judicial custody, Pakistani NGO says
    A human rights group expresses concern over “increasing incidents of violence” against religious minorities. Fanatics enjoy impunity thanks to complicitous prison guards. The government is blamed for not prosecuting people responsible for such crimes. Police has not yet registered a first information report on the murder of a 20-year-old Christian man in Sialkot prison.

    10/12/2004 PAKISTAN – HUMAN RIGHTS
    Religious minorities, persecuted and marginalised

    Non-Muslims are marginalised from the country's political and social life despite guarantees for equal rights and obligations under the 1947 constitution.

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