LAHORE: Sentenced to death for blasphemy, Sawan Masih appealed against his conviction on Tuesday, saying the charges were trumped up to speed up the eviction of Christians from the area.
Masih was convicted last week of blasphemy, which occurred during a conversation with a Muslim friend in the Joseph Colony neighbourhood of Lahore in March last year.
"We have filed an appeal in the Lahore High Court against the death sentence awarded to Sawan Masih and called for his acquittal and release from jail," his lawyer Naeem Shakir told AFP.
More than 3,000 rioters rampaged through Joseph Colony, torching some 100 Christian homes in Lahore, after the allegations against Masih emerged.
Police had initially said they would investigate whether or not Muslim businessmen in the area may have instigated the violence with the aim of seizing Christians' land, or to exploit the blasphemy allegations for political gain.
Shakir said the circumstances in which the incident took place cast "serious doubts" over the prosecution's case.
He added his client had told the court the blasphemy charges "were fabricated by the elements who wanted to occupy the property of Joseph Colony."
There is a de facto moratorium on civilian hangings since 2008. Only one person has been executed since then, a soldier convicted by court martial.
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