LAHORE: Several Pakistani rights activists have claimed that a prosecutor has asked members of the minority Christian community to renounce Christianity and embrace Islam to avoid conviction on terrorism charges.
Around 42 Christians have been charged for lynching two men after two suicide bombings targeted a Sunday Mass in two churches in the Christian neighbourhood of Youhanabad in Lahore on March 15, 2015.
Following the explosion, violent protests erupted with a mob lynching the two men, suspecting them of involvement in the blasts.
“Taking advantage of their presence at ATC-1 Lahore, Deputy District Public Prosecutor Syed Anees Shah gathers the accused outside the courtroom and asks them to embrace Islam,” The Express Tribune quoted a rights activist Joseph Franci, who was involved in providing legal assistance to the accused in the case, as saying.
“He asks them if they embrace Islam, he can guarantee their acquittal in this case,” he added.
Joseph said the accused remained silent and were dumbfounded.
A Pakistani advocate Naseeb Anjum said that the public prosecutor’s offer was not new and added that he had also given this offer to some of the accused about six months back, but they rejected it.
Syed Anees Shah, when contacted, at first said that he did not ask them to embrace Islam, but conceded that he offered them a choice when he was told that the accused have video recording of what he said. Later, he disconnected the call in an attempt to avoid discussing the issue, the Express Tribune report said.