Shah was removed from the anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Thursday
A Pakistani public prosecutor who allegedly offered freedom to 42 on-trial Christians if they converted to Islam has been removed from his position.
Deputy public prosecutor (DDPP) Syed Anees Shah told 42 Christians accused of murder that they could ’embrace Islam and go free’, it was reported last week.
The Christians in Lahore, the capital of Punjab, were accused of murder, charged with lynching two men believed to be connected with the March 2015 suicide bombing attacks on two churches in Youhanabad, Lahore, that killed at least 17 and injured more than 80.
In court, Mr Shah reportedly told the accused minority that he could ‘guarantee their acquittal’ if they renounced their Christian faith and ’embrace Islam’.
When Shah was approached about the alleged offer, he denied it at first. When he was told his bargain had been recorded on video, he admitted that he may have ‘offered them a choice’.
Shah was removed from the anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Thursday, according to The Express Tribune.
A source in the Punjab prosecution department said Shah would not be serving in any future cases.
‘He has been asked to report to the office of Punjab Prosecutor General till further orders. A new DDPP named Muhammad Azir has replaced Anees at the ATC-1,’ he said.
Wilson Chowdhry, Chairman of the British Pakistani Christian Association, said: ‘It is heartening to see that action has been taken by the Anti-Terrorism Court in suspending Mr Anees Shah, but quite frankly the whole debacle has only served to highlight ongoing prejudice in the Judicial system.
‘Mr Shah’s action implies that being Muslim places any citizen above the rule of law, a damning indictment of governance within the nation.’
He added: ‘It would be foolish and unwise to assume that the removal of one obviously fundamental prosecutor has been a panacea for a flawed and biased judiciary.
‘Quite the contrary, I believe the majority of law-makers in Pakistan treat Christians as anathema.’
The 42 suspects were indicted on 10 January 2016, and have been in prison for the past two years. Defence lawyers allege that at least 30 of the accused men are completely innocent.
Chowdhry added: ‘the fact that no arrests were made for any of the men involved in the actual twin church bomb attack in 2015, yet 500 were arrested and 42 indicted for the ensuing riot that led to the death of two Muslim men, insidiously implies Christian lives are worth less them Muslim lives.’