Pakistan to hang 5 men who burned Christian couple alive in brick kiln in 2014

Pakistan has sentenced five people to death in the case of a Christian couple who were beaten and burned alive in a brick kiln in 2014 over false accusations of blasphemy.

(Reuters/Mohamed al-Sayaghi)Laborers stack dried bricks inside a kiln, where they will be fired, at a brick factory on the outskirt of Sanaa, Yemen, June 1, 2016.

On Wednesday, an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan sentenced five people to death by hanging and eight other suspects to two years in prison for their involvement in the deaths of Shahzad Masih and Shama Bibi in 2014. The brutal killing of the Christian couple in a mob lynching stemmed from false accusations of throwing out pages of the Quran with the trash, the Express Tribune

The couple's family was reportedly only burning documents that belonged to Shahzad's father who died before the lynching. The father was a faith healer with various inscriptions.

"The five people awarded the death sentence were involved in dragging, beating and burning the couple while the other eight played a supportive role according to the judgment," said Riaz Anjum, the lawyer of the Christian couple's family.

According to witnesses, an angry mob attacked the Christian couple in Punjab in 2014. Hundreds of people beat them up and threw their bodies into a brick kiln. The incident stirred an outrage in Pakistan which prompted Christians living near the couple's home to flee the area.

Suleman, the couple's eldest son who was six years old at that time, told media how he saw his parents twitching in the flames. Police officers who investigated the mob lynching confirmed that there was no evidence that a crime was committed, British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA) reports.

Anjum told BPCA that 103 people were charged in the couple's case, but Lahore's anti-terrorism court acquitted 90. The owner of the brick kiln is one of those who were acquitted.

Blasphemy cases in Pakistan have often sparked mob violence. Although the issue is very sensitive in the country, critics have slammed those who abuse the blasphemy laws to settle personal disputes with Christians.