Killers of Catholic youth, Javed Anjum, sentenced
Only two out of the three murderers were sentenced; they have been condemned to 25 years imprisonment. The 19-year-old boy was tortured in a bid to make him embrace Islam.
Faisalabad (AsiaNews) Twenty-three months after Javed Anjum, a 19-year-old Catholic boy, was murdered, the trial of two of his three killers has reached its verdict: Ghulam Rasool and Muhammad Tayab have been condemned to 25 years in prison. Umar Hayat, an Islamic cleric held to be the third murderer, was arrested in January after 22 months of being on the run; he is awaiting sentencing.
In April 2004, the three men tortured the boy for five whole days in a bid to force him to convert to Islam. When their persecution proved to be in vain, they handed Javed over to the police and made false accusations against him. His injuries were so severe that medical treatment was to no avail. The boy died on 2 May in a state hospital in Faisalabad: his medical report states that the Christian died "of 26 serious injuries resulting from torture".
At this death bed, Javed identified one of his persecutors, Rasool, who was arrested immediately: under interrogation, he named Tayyab and Umar as his accomplices.
Khalil Tahir Sindhu, the family lawyer, told AsiaNews: "The sentence handed down by Javed Iqbal Warraich, the district judge of Toba Tek Sing, is significant but not satisfactory. Pervez Masih, Javed' father, has already asked me to file an appeal in Pakistan's High Court to ask for the death penalty for the two torturers.
Masih was "taken away from the courtroom before the sentence was pronounced for security reasons". The lawyer added: "The courtroom was full of students from Jamia Hassan Bin Ali Almurtaza, the madrassah where Javed was tortured to death. They were shouting and threatening the others who were present: it was a very tense situation."
"I am convinced Javed was targeted by the three extremists because of the solidity of his faith," said Sindhu. "Mgr Coutts, bishop of Faisalabad, told me that only a cross and a prayer book were found in his pockets when he died."