86 sent to 55 years in jail for Aasia protest
A Pakistani court has sentenced a brother and a nephew of a radical Islamist party chief along with 84 others to 55 years in jail for taking part in protests in 2018 over the acquittal of Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman, in a blasphemy case, according to a media report.
The anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi was hearing a case against the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) workers who had held violent protests and clashed with police over the arrest of party chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi in 2018, the Dawn newspaper reported.
Those convicted include Khadim’s brother Ameer Hussain Rizvi and nephew Mohammad Ali, the report said.
The case in which the 86 people have been sentenced to 55 years in prison pertains to rioting and resisting the police, the report said.
Additionally, the court on Thursday ordered the convicts to collectively submit Rs 1.3 crore and directed authorities to seize their moveable and immoveable assets.
After the verdict was announced late on Thursday night, the convicts were escorted to Attock jail in three vehicles under tight security.
In November 2018, over 2,000 people had been booked for terrorism and other crimes such as rioting, attempting murder and hurling threats in different parts of Pakistan’s Punjab province during the three-day protests following the acquittal of Aasia.
Aasia, a 47-year-old mother of four, was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam in a row with her neighbours. She maintains that she is innocent, but has spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.
In a landmark judgement, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice Saqib Nisar overturned the conviction of Aasia, who had been facing execution for blasphemy, sparking protests led by the TLP and other groups across Pakistan.