Sindh High Court overturns blasphemy conviction against journalist
PESHAWAR- Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans Frontiers) has confirmed that editorialist Ayub Khoso was released from Hyderabad prison on October 24 as a result of a decision by the Sindh High Court at Hyderabad quashing his conviction for blasphemy.
He had been in prison since December 1999. The court also overturned the conviction of Zahoor Ansari, the editor of Alakh, a daily newspaper to which Khoso contributed editorials. According to RSF, Khoso’s lawyer told Reporters Without Borders member that the High Court in Hyderabad issued its ruling on October 22.
Khoso was released on bail and has returned to his village in the Mirpurkhas area. The complaint against him still stands, and he is scheduled to appear in the court on November 25 for the first hearing in a new trial.
In 1999, Mirpurkhas anti-terrorist court had convicted Khoso of blasphemy, in absentia, and sentenced him to 17 years in prison for publishing an excerpt from a book entitled ‘Hum Jins Parasti Ki Tehreek’ (Movement for Homosexuality), which maintains that homosexuality emerged at the time of the Prophets Adam, Habeal and Qabeel.
The Mirpurkhas court’s judge deemed this to be an ‘insult’ to the prophet. The complaint was filed by Ahmed Mian Barkati, a fundamentalist leader in the Mirpurkhas area known for filing lawsuits in connection with publications he considers to be an incitement to ‘religious hate’. Khoso was a teacher in a private school in his village, and used to publish opinion pieces regularly in newspapers in the region, especially Ibrat, Alakh, Tameer-e-Sind, Sawural and Sham. He was fired from his teaching post following his conviction.
Source: Business Recorder