Without being charged, the men were kept for days, hung upside down and brutally beaten. Police demanded a huge bribe for their release.
Two Pakistani Christians men are both fighting for their lives after being tortured by police in Lahore. The two men, Faraz Masih, 30, and Doya Masih, 40, were arrested for allegedly committing a robbery, a crime which they deny.
Without being formally charged, the men were kept in police custody for days, hung upside down and brutally beaten. Family members were denied access to the prisoners. However, after offering a huge bribe to a junior police officer, one relative was allowed into the
station, where he secretly photographed the gruesome scene.
After sharing the photos with local crime reporters, the mainstream media picked up the story. Media attention on the case forced the police to transfer the near-unconscious men to a private clinic for medical attention.
In a strategy reported by locals to be typical in such cases (which are also reportedly very common), the privately-managed clinic was chosen by the police to avoid legal “complications.” If the police would have transferred the men to a public government hospital, their medical records could be used an evidence against the offending officers.
Although a senior police officer ordered a commission of inquiry to investigate the incident, locals say this is a common tactic used to deflect attention from the police and silence the media. It is not expected to bear any outcome.
Although Pakistani law disallows any corporal punishment while in custody and states that all those arrested for crimes must be brought to a court within 24 hours after their arrests, in this case, the police did not charge the men and, therefore, there is no official record of their arrest.
One relative reported that the police were demanding a huge bribe to release the men, who both come from poor families. “The police investigators applied third-degree torture methods during interrogation. They were demanding one hundred thousand rupees ($955) for the release of the suspects,” he told local media.
The sum, which represents more than a year’s salary for those living in poverty in Pakistan, was impossible for the families to pay. According to a survey by the Christian Monitor, most prisoners in Lahore’s prisons are Christians who cannot afford to pay the requisite bribe asked after every arrest.
Thousands in Pakistan have lost their lives through this state-sanctioned abuse that criminal suspects encounter at the hands of police and prison officials.