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Zafar Bhatti, a 51-year-old pastor, will appeal a sentence handed down earlier this month by a session court in Rawalpindi.

Bhatti was charged under the blasphemy law for sending “blasphemous text messages” from his mobile phone. He denied the charge, pointing out that the phone in question was not registered in his name.

Ps Bhatti was facing the death sentence for this charge. However, he was sentenced to life imprisonment instead, due to a lack of concrete evidence.

The case was held in Adiala Central Jail Rawalpindi for security reasons ─ where he has been held since 2012. During this time, he has been subject to a number of attacks on his life inside the prison, including a poisoning and a shooting.

Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS) lawyers, who have faced death threats for representing Ps Bhatti, will be appealing the session court’s decision at the Lahore High Court.

Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK says he believes the court passed sentence due to Islamist pressure and that by deferring the final verdict to the High Court, they are causing undue suffering to Ps Bhatti and his family.

“We believe Ps Bhatti is innocent and will be freed by the Higher Court. But it will take several years for his case to be heard there. Until then he and his family will continue suffering needlessly.”

CLAAS, who is providing free legal aid to Ps Bhatti, is also visiting him regularly and supporting his family.

Source: Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS)

  • Pray that Ps Bhatti and his family, along with the CLAAS lawyer representing him, will be kept safe while they await the appeal.
  • Ask God for the appeal to be heard as soon as possible and conducted fairly and with due diligence to the law.
  • Pray that the resolution recently passed by Pakistan’s National Assembly, to prevent misuse of the Blasphemy Law will take effect around the nation, offering justice and protection to Ps Bhatti and many others like him in years to come.