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Police acquit themselves over death of 18-year-old Christian

Pakistan officials say they are not guilty of death in custody
Police acquit themselves over death of 18-year-old Christian
Published: July 12, 2013 05:03 AM GMT
Updated: July 11, 2013 09:50 PM GMT

Pakistani police officials involved in the alleged torture and death of an 18-year-old Christian during an illegal detention, have been exonerated by an internal inquiry. The decision, announced on Wednesday, sparked angry reactions from activists, lawyers and the boy’s family.

Adnan Masih, a resident of Sheikhupura in Punjab province, was arrested on June 2 in connection with a missing Muslim girl.  Although Adnan pleaded innocence, he was kept in police custody for over a week at Sharaqpur Sharif police station. His family claim he was frequently tortured.

He died of his wounds on June 10. The police maintain that he committed suicide.

The death prompted hundreds of Christians to stage a protest and call for the arrest of those responsible. In response, senior officials suspended prime suspect Station House Officer Riaz ud-Din, along with other police officers, and launched an inquiry. 

But a statement on the Asian Human Rights Commission website on Wednesday said that “police officers have been exonerated [by their own internal inquiry] from charges of killing the young Christian.”

The Centre for Legal Aid Assistance & Settlement (CLAAS) commented: “We reject the police inquiry, which was conducted by a junior officer.” The director of CLAAS said they will be requesting exhumation of the body so the exact cause of death can be established.

The findings of the police probe are to be passed to a magistrate, who will be expected to instigate a judicial inquiry. Adnan’s family say they hope justice will be served.

“I want justice. I want to see all those responsible for the death of my son punished,” Riaz Masih, 60, a retired schoolteacher, told ucanews.com.

“My son was subjected to brutal torture because of his Christian faith.” 

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