Pakistani high court upholds death sentence of Christian brothers charged with blasphemy
The High Court in Lahore, Pakistan, has upheld the death sentence of two Christian brothers charged with blasphemy.
Qaiser and Amoon Ayub were accused of posting blasphemous content online in 2011.
They have always maintained their innocence. Amoon believes that the website where the blasphemous material was shared was created by his brother's Muslim friends to settle a score.
In December 2018, Qaiser and Amoon were found guilty after standing trial and they were both sentenced to death.
They were also ordered to pay a 100,000 rupee (around £400) fine.
They have been defended in their case by the Christian charity CLAAS, which submitted an appeal to the High Court against the death sentence.
The appeal was heard in February and the judgment upholding their death sentence was announced on Wednesday.
CLAAS said it would now appeal to the Supreme Court.
Nasir Saeed, Director of CLAAS-UK, said, "We all were hoping that because the court had reserved the verdict, and because they were taking so long to announce it, blasphemy charges against them would be dropped and both would be freed.
"But to the contrary, the High court upheld their death sentence. Both brothers were looking weak as they are already suffering from health issues."
Saeed said he was "very hopeful" that the brothers will eventually be freed when the case comes before the Pakistan Supreme Court.
"Unfortunately, we cannot tell how long it will take but we are hopeful that the country's highest court will do justice," he said.
"This will be the third case of blasphemy which will be heard by the Supreme Court. We still believe that the brothers are innocent and it has not been proved that they had published any blasphemous contents."