Christian man jailed for committing blasphemy dead

A Christian man serving a life sentence for committing blasphemy has died in mysterious circumstances in a jail in the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

Updated: Mar 16, 2011, 21:44 PM IST

Islamabad: A Christian man serving a life
sentence for committing blasphemy has died in mysterious circumstances in a jail in the Pakistani port city of Karachi.

Qamar David was lodged in Karachi`s central jail after
being convicted under the controversial blasphemy law. He died
yesterday, prison officials said.

The officials contended that David died of a heart
attack but his family said this is unlikely to be true as he
was a fit and healthy man.

David`s lawyer Pervez Chaudhry also told the media
that his client had been receiving threats.

"My client was in perfect condition the last time I
met him. I have spoken to the family and we don`t believe he
died a natural death. He had been receiving threats against
his life," Chaudhry said.

The lawyer said he had submitted an application in
court about the threats.

David had mentioned that prison officials were
involved in the threats, he claimed.

David`s cousin Shahid Sagar said he visited him
regularly in jail and he had never complained of any illness.

"He was certainly not in the kind of condition that
would make him drop dead all of a sudden. I can`t accept this
report of him dying of a heart attack," Sagar said.

Sindh Inspector General of Prisons Ghulam Qadir Thebo
insisted that David died of a heart attack.

"There is no question about it - he died of natural
causes," he said.
Thebo said David was being held in a Christians-only
wing of the jail and there was no question of him being
targeted by Muslim prisoners.

"Our investigations have not yielded any evidence of
foul play," Thebo said adding further inquiries could be
conducted if demanded by David`s family.

David, a resident of Lahore, worked as a supplier of cosmetics to shops in Karachi.
Pakistan`s controversial blasphemy law, criticised by
liberals and civil society groups, prescribes punishments up
to death for blasphemy.

However, public expressions of opposition to the law
have become rare after two leaders of the ruling PPP -- Punjab
Governor Salmaan Taseer and Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz
Bhatti, a Christian -- were assassinated for challenging the
statute.

PTI