Home Latest News ‘Blasphemy Couple’ Murder Investigation ‘Biased’: Supreme Court

‘Blasphemy Couple’ Murder Investigation ‘Biased’: Supreme Court

by Aamir Iqbal
Shehzad Masih and Shama Bibi. HO—AFP

Shehzad Masih and Shama Bibi. HO—AFP

Two-member bench to order judicial probe into case at next hearing.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday dismissed a police inquiry into the killing of a Christian couple in Punjab province as ‘biased’ and ‘unsatisfactory.’

Shehzad Masih and Shama Bibi, who was pregnant at the time of the attack on Nov. 4 and a mother to three, were reportedly locked inside a brick-making factory for alleged blasphemy before being beaten and thrown on top of a lit furnace by an enraged mob. Their charred bones and discarded shoes were recovered later, sparking protests and outrage across Pakistan.

“A two-member bench of the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction over the police investigation and hinted at pursuing a judicial inquiry,” said Jamshed Khan, a lawyer present at Tuesday’s hearing. “Justice Dost Mohammad Khan, who was leading the bench, said the [police] inquiry was completely biased,” he added.

In their report, the Punjab police have claimed to arrest 90 of 140 accused, and filed cases against 59 of them before an anti-terrorism court. The report also claims that the mobile phone data of one of the police officers at the scene, Abdul Rasheed, proves he was aware of the allegations against the Christian couple but failed to take any action to protect them.

According to lawyer Khan, the bench had questioned why the police had failed to record statements of any of the relatives of the Christian couple, including eyewitnesses, as required under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code. He said the court ruled that the police’s apparent ambivalence was forcing the establishment of a judicial commission. “Justice Dost Muhammad Khan said the court would issue orders to set up a judicial commission during its next hearing [into the case] on March 24,” he said. Once the order is given, the Punjab government will be directed to forward all materials related to the case to a district judge for inquiry, he added.

An official of the Supreme Court, speaking on condition of anonymity as he is not permitted to speak to media, said the two-member bench had claimed the attack on the Christian couple exposed a rise in extremist views within Pakistani society. “If police treat such horrible incidents lightly, they could soon lose all their authority,” they added. He said the court had also rejected as meaningless a police statement claiming two officers had been forcibly retired over their negligence in the case.

“The court has directed the police chief to arrest all the accused and provide complete security to the family of the murdered victims after getting their statements,” he added.

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