01/29/2018, 15.07
PAKISTAN
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Punjab, killer of Christian student freed. The pain of the family

by Kamran Chaudhry

Catholics denounce "evidence tampered with by security agencies". Medical investigations on the Christian's body do not reveal signs of torture. Sharoon Masih, 17 years old, was beaten to death out of religious racism. Similar atrocities ruin the image of Islam in the eyes of the rest of the world.

Lahore (AsiaNews) - The Multan High Court (in Pakistan) has ordered the release on bail of Ahmed Raza, the Muslim student arrested for killing Sharoon Masih, 17, his classmate of Christian faith.

The latter was beaten to death because "guilty" of having drunk from the same water dispenser as fellow Muslims. According to the judges, no clear evidence was collected to attest to the guilt of the arrested person.

The victim's family denounce the superficiality with which the police conducted the investigation to AsiaNews. Catholic sources asking for anonymity also report that the agents delayed the filing of the report and altered the evidence (Fir, First information report), compromising the result of the investigation.

Moreover, the autopsy exams presented in court excluded traces of torture and speak only of death by heart attack. "It was clear - says the source - that with all these gaps and in the absence of overwhelming evidence the killer would be released. It is painful, because the Christian student was brutally killed".

Sheron was beaten to death on August 30 last year. Originally from Chak 461 village, Pakistani Punjab, he had been admitted to the public school of Burewala just a few days earlier. Razia Bibi, his mother, reports that her son was immediately targeted by Muslim classmates who had imposed a ban on drinking from the same water dispenser as them. But Sheron disobeyed, and for this reason was beaten to death.

The High Court verdict of the has thrown the family of the victim and the whole Christian community into despair, which denounces a climate of religious discrimination.

Alysaab Masih, the student's father, says: "While the country is united in calling for justice for Zainab [the seven-year-old girl raped and strangled in Kasur, near Lahore - ed], no one is raising their voice for us. The killer is an adult, about 20 years old, while medical reports claim that he is only 17 and a half years old. From the first hearing I understood that the court would free him".

The diocese of Multan has offered legal support to the Christian family and wants to appeal against the release. Shaukat Channan, diocesan coordinator for the National Justice and Peace Commission, denounces that the student's parents "have been pressured to withdraw the complaint in exchange for money". "The police - he adds - refused to recover the weapon. All the other students reported to the investigators that there had been a fight between Sharoon and Raza over a broken cell phone. "

Aamir Kakkazai, an Islamic writer and researcher, reports that "according to a World Justice Project survey on the civil justice system, Pakistan stands at 106th out of 113 countries. Minorities are victims of the abuse of the blasphemy law, their religious monuments are attacked, they are killed and the villages burned. The murder of Sharoon shows how our society is intolerant. We must educate our people that Islam is a religion of peace. Such atrocities ruin the image of Islam in the eyes of the rest of the world ". "We must realize - he continues - that the world has changed. Western countries pay particular attention to minorities; instead we ignore their problems and approve laws that afflict their existence ".

For Naseem Anthony, a Christian, director of the Awam organization, "the practice of distorting evidence by security agencies is not new in Pakistan. The guilty parties are encouraged by false evidence and easily escape the heinous crimes committed against minorities. In such circumstances, politicians must set up compensation mechanisms. The case should be reopened and investigated again according to parameters of justice. A special investigative committee should be formed that includes neutral activists and lawyers ".

(Shafique Khokhar collaborated)

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