A Pakistani Christian has been bailed after more than three years in prison without being brought to trial or convicted.
Adnan Prince, 29, from Lahore, was initially jailed in November 2013 after being accused of blasphemy and insulting Islam, the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad, which carries the death sentence.
Asma Jahangir, Prince’s lead counsel, said forensic evidence had failed to link the accused with his alleged offences and she was confident he could be freed soon.
He was accused of blasphemy on October 7, 2013.
He was spotted reading the book, I asked the Bible why the Qurans were set on fire, by his Muslim colleague who took offence and reported him for blasphemy, claiming Prince had “marked several pages… with abusive words against the Prophet of Islam”.
On hearing of his accusation and the severity of the punishment if convicted, Prince fled. But his brother, mother, aunt and uncle were arrested in his place and told they would not be released until he returned.
So on November 6 Prince handed himself in to the police station where he says he was tortured repeatedly.
“When I came to my senses [after one round of torture], I was told that a heavy machine would be rolled over my thighs, which would not only be painful but would render me permanently impotent.
“Then the deputy superintendent of police pushed the barrel of a pistol into my mouth and told me to confess that I had written abusive words in the book. He said he would count to three and that if I didn’t confess, he would pull the trigger.”
On one occasion he was told he was free to go.
“But I knew they were lying and would shoot me from behind if I left,” he said. “I told them that if you want to shoot me, then shoot me in the chest and not in the back. They stopped torturing me when they felt they would not be able to shake my resolve.”
While in prison he was kept separate from other prisoners for fear of attacks.
Similar cases have been known to take as long as seven years to reach trial.
The most famous ongoing ‘blasphemy charge’ case is that of Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death for insulting Islam in 2009 and still remains in jail, awaiting her appeal.