- 11 updates
The family of the British pensioner that has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy has revealed the complaint was brought against him by a tenant, with whom he was having a dispute.
Mohammed Asghar's family released a statement through legal charity Reprieve stating he had been jailed pending a trial "as a result of a property dispute" with one of his tenants.
"We, his family, want him released by the Pakistani government so he can be treated appropriately for his medical condition," they said.
"We are really upset and concerned that they will never release him and that he will die in jail," they added.
A petition on change.org, addressed to Prime Minister David Cameron and Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond, is calling for Asghar's release. The Scottish Government said it was in touch with the Foreign Office about the case.
A British pensioner sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy is in urgent need of mental health treatment, legal charity Reprieve has said.
Lawyers for Mohammed Asghar told campaigners at the charity Reprieve that he was in very poor health and appeared "pale, dehydrated, shaking and barely lucid."
Asghar was arrested in 2010 near Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, for claiming to be the Prophet Mohammed.
He was convicted last week but his family is appealing for him to be released from custody in order to receive medical help as he suffers from mental illness and was treated for paranoid schizophrenia in Edinburgh before returning to Pakistan in 2010.
"We are extremely worried about Mr Asghar's mental health, which appears to have seriously deteriorated," said Maya Foa, director of Reprieve's death penalty team, adding he is being put in "a perilous position" without correct medication.
A British pensioner with a history of severe mental illness has been sentenced to death in Pakistan after being found guilty of breaching the country’s blasphemy laws.
According to the Independent, Mohammad Ashgar from Edinburgh, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2010 after developing psychotic symptoms following a stroke in 2000.
His lawyer, who did not want to be identified, told the newspaper: “He is receiving no care for his mental condition or receiving prescribed medication. He was taken out of his individual cell and stuffed in with several other people in a very cramped cell.
"He keeps threatening to commit suicide and we are very worried about him.”
Scotland's government has condemned a ruling by a court in Pakistan sentencing British national Mohammad Asghar to death for blasphemy. A Scottish Government spokesman said:
Human rights campaigners have called for the immediate release of a British man sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws.
A judge convicted and sentenced Mohammad Asghar, from Edinburgh, on Thursday following a trial. Amnesty International's deputy Asia Pacific director Polly Truscott said:
Accusations of blasphemy are surging in Pakistan, according to an Islamabad-based think-tank, the Center for Research and Security Studies. The report comes as Pakistan has handed a death sentence for blasphemy to Mohammad Ashgar, a Briton with a history of mental health problems.
Many analysts see the blasphemy claims as score-settling or a front for property grabs. The charges are hard to fight because the law does not define what is blasphemous and presenting the evidence can sometimes itself be considered a fresh infringement.
The Foreign Office has condemned the death sentence of a British national in Pakistan.
Mohammad Asghar, a British national of Pakistani origin, has been sentenced to death by a court in Rawalpindi for claiming to be a prophet of Islam.
Senior Foreign Office Minister Baroness Warsi said:
“It is the longstanding policy of Her Majesty’s Government to oppose the death penalty in all circumstances as a matter of principle.
"The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has been providing consular support to Mr Asghar, and we will be raising our concerns in the strongest possible terms with the Pakistani government.”
A presidential order in 2008 imposed a moratorium on the death penalty for civilians in Pakistan. The only execution in the country since that time was a soldier convicted of murder in 2012.
Civilians who have avoided execution in Pakistan include:
- Leeds-born Mirza Tahir Hussain - sentenced to death for murder in 2006. Then-prime minster Tony Blair and Prince Charles successfully appealed against the sentence
- Christian teenager Rimsha Masih - arrested for alleged blasphemy after being accused of burning a copy of the Qur'an. Masih, estimated to be around 14, was held in jail for three weeks. After an international outcry, charges against her were dropped and she and her family fled to Canada.
Mohammad Asghar, a British national, was arrested in Pakistan in 2010 after writing letters to people - including a police officer, claiming that he was a prophet, Dawn.com reported.
Insulting the Prophet Mohammed can carry the death penalty in Pakistan.
Asghar was arrested under section 295-C of the PPC, the newspaper reported, which reads:
“Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Mohammed .... shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.”
A special court in Pakistan has rejected claims that Mohammad Asghar, a British national of Pakistani origin, has mental health problems and sentenced him to death for blasphemy, AFP reported.
The special court inside Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail near Islamabad, where the Briton is being held, "declared him as a normal person" Javed Gul, a government prosecutor, told the news agency.