Pakistan: Christian man gets life term for sending blasphemous SMSs

A Christian man in Pakistan's Punjab province has been sentenced to life imprisonment for sending blasphemous mobile phone text messages to some Muslim clerics.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Mian Shahzad Raza of Toba Tek Singh district slapped the sentence and a Rs 2 lakh fine on Sajjad Masih yesterday.

Masih, a resident of Pak pattan district, was arrested in December 2011 for allegedly sending blasphemous mobile phone messages to Muslim clerics of Gojra in Toba Tek Singh, some 200 kilometres from Lahore.

The judge heard the case in the district jail and handed down the sentence to Masih after several ulemas (clerics) of Gojra testified against him.

A forensic record of the accused's mobile phone messages was also presented in the court.

The court was informed that Masih was engaged to his relative Ruma Masih of Gojra Christian Colony but she contracted marriage with a Christian man living in the UK.

Masih had with him a mobile phone SIM belonging to Ruma and he sent blasphemous messages to the clerics from it.

Police said Masih wanted to land Ruma in trouble to teach her a lesson for her 'betrayal'.

The police initially registered a case against Masih under Section 25-B of the Telegraph Act but then added the controversial blasphemy law to the FIR on the demand of the clerics.

Muslims and clerics of Gojra also pressured police to try Ruma under the blasphemy law.

The police finally succumbed to their pressure and registered a case against her under the law.

On the request of police, the federal interior ministry sought a red corner notice from Interpol for the arrest of Ruma in the UK but she is yet to be traced.

Pakistani police have declared her a 'proclaimed offender' or fugitive.

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