RAWALPINDI - The British national of Pakistani origin Muhammad Asghar on Friday filed an appeal with Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench against his conviction by an additional and sessions judge on January 24 in a blasphemy case.
A two-member divisional bench (DB) of LHC Rawalpindi Bench will take up the appeal of the petitioner in upcoming days.
AFP adds: Lawyers for the elderly Briton said the court had failed to consider ‘overwhelming’ evidence of his mental illness.
Mohammad Asghar, a British-Pakistani with dual nationality, was sentenced by a court in Rawalpindi last week for writing letters claiming to be a prophet of Islam.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he is “deeply concerned” about Asghar, who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in Britain in 2010, and officials have raised the matter with the Pakistani authorities. A lawyer for the 69-year-old said an appeal had been lodged with the Lahore High Court on Friday against both the conviction and death sentence.
“In the appeal the defence has questioned that the court did not follow safeguards available in the law to the defendant who is suffering from mental illness,” the lawyer told AFP.
“In addition the overwhelming evidence of his mental illness from UK was not considered by the court despite repeated requests.”
The lawyer spoke on condition of anonymity because defending blasphemy cases in Pakistan can bring the risk of reprisal attacks.
Blasphemy is an extremely sensitive issue in a country where 97 percent of the population is Muslim.
Pakistan’s tough blasphemy laws have attracted criticism from rights groups, who say they are frequently abused to settle personal scores.
Asghar’s family says the allegations against him stem from a property dispute with one of his tenants.