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Briton facing gallows in Pakistan has history of mental illness

Posted on Jan 25 2014 | IANS

London, Jan 25 : An elderly Briton, awarded the death sentence in Pakistan for claiming to be the Prophet, has a history of severe mental illness and his case was heard without a jury, British media reported Saturday.

He was awarded the death sentence after being found guilty of breaching the country's blasphemy laws.

Muhammad Asghar, 69, from Edinburgh, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and is unaware that he is ill following a stroke, was convicted at the end of a trial in Pakistan's Rawalpindi city in which it was alleged he claimed to be the Prophet Mohammed, The Independent reported.

According to the British daily, during the case which was heard without a jury, the judge forcibly removed his independent lawyers from the court and appointed a state counsel on the defendant's behalf.

A sworn affidavit written by a leading British consultant psychiatrist confirmed that Asghar's grandiose claims were consistent with his deteriorating mental health. It was, however, not accepted as evidence.

Human rights campaigners have called for the immediate release of the British man sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy laws, the Daily Mail reported.

According to Pakistani daily Dawn, Asghar, who was said to be 65-years-old, was also fined Pakistani Rs.1 million (USD 9,500) by the court. He was arrested in 2010 after he wrote letters to different people, including a police officer, claiming he was Prophet Mohammad.

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