ASIA/PAKISTAN - Christian dies in prison: an urgent investigation

Friday, 29 January 2016 religious minorities   violence  

Islamabad (Agenzia Fides) – Need to proceed with a serious and independent investigation to identify and punish those responsible for the death of Liaqat Masih, a 35-year-old Christian who died following torture and ill-treatment while detained in a Pakistani jail. This is what Christians, civil and religious leaders, activists and civil society groups in Pakistan call for.
Liaqat Masih, who worked as a driver for Raza Hameed, the son of a politician in Gujranwala, Punjab, was arrested on November 15, 2015 together with his son, Khurram Sunil, after allegations of theft, due to a complaint by his employer.
As Fides learned, Masih and his son were detained in custody at the police station in Gujranwala without evidence or trial, although they proclaimed themselves innocent. On January 8, Khurram Sunil was released on bail but was arrested again on January 10 as "an accomplice in the theft".
Liaquat Masih died in prison on January 14. Although the autopsy says it was a "heart attack", his son says that his father was brutally beaten on the evening before his death, and was hanged from a rope upside down. The police returned Liaquat Masih’s body to his family on January 15. "The death of Liaquat Masih is part of a model of extrajudicial executions of Christians, who are regularly discriminated against in Pakistan", says a note sent to Fides by the NGO Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). Along with "Cecil Chaudhry & Iris Foundation", CSW calls for an independent investigation on the case and urgent need to carry out a new autopsy, noting "the deteriorating situation for religious minorities in Pakistan". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 29/01/2016)