Asia

Pakistan charges 106 over Christian couple's lynching

Undated family handout photo showing a Christian couple who were killed by a Muslim mob in Pakistan in November 2014 Image copyright AFP/Getty
Image caption Shama Mesih was pregnant with her fifth child when she and her husband were killed

Pakistan has charged 106 people with murder after a Christian couple was beaten and burnt to death by a mob in Punjab province over blasphemy allegations.

Sajjad Mesih and his wife Shama, who was pregnant, were killed last year after claims burnt pages of the Koran were found near their mud brick house.

They were attacked and put in the brick kiln where they worked as labourers.

Local media reports that three men had stirred up a crowd of 400.

The charge sheet produced by the Pakistan anti-terrorism court says the accused - three clerics - were involved in persistent provocative speech against the couple, according to local media.

Thirty-two suspects are said still to be at large.

Summonses have also been issued for witnesses to come forward.

Image caption Flowers were left at the site of the couple's murder

Following rumours that burnt pages of the Koran had been found, angry members of the village told the impoverished couple to convert to Islam to repent against their alleged sin, or face the consequences for committing blasphemy.

Witnesses told the BBC when they tried to leave they were locked in a room at the kiln and told they must pay duties first.

The next day hundreds of people converged on the kiln. They were dragged out, attacked with bricks and shovels and later laid on the brick oven to be burnt alive.

The case raised fears among Christians, who form a minority in the Muslim country where blasphemy laws are controversial and attacks against Christians are common.

Protests were staged demanding justice.

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