An Egyptian Coptic Christian has finally been acquitted from blasphemy charges, after spending three years in jail on false accusations, the World Watch Monitor reported.
Bishoy Kameel Garas was sentenced to six years of imprisonment in September 2012 on unproven charges of authoring a Facebook page with blaspheming messages against Islam, former President Mohamed Morsi, and a Muslim clergyman's sister. It was a fake page created by one of his acquaintances named Michael -- who is now in Italy -- who wrote the defamatory lines in Bishoy's name.
Bishoy alerted the cyber police about the phony account, and also posted warnings about it on his Facebook page.
Nevertheless, he was imprisoned without investigation, despite a recorded confession of Michael.
Confronted with the evidence, the rulings to acquit him were delayed from November 14th, 2015 to February 13th, 2016, because the issue was deemed 'sensitive,' by the judge, according to his lawyer Magdy Farouk Saeed.
Subsequently, he was declared innocent on March 13th, 2016.
The court did not verify the evidence properly and refused to take note that the hacker was a different person than the defendant, Bishoy, human rights activists say.
"The judge would not hear the difference between one's own genuine Facebook page and a page created by another assuming a false identity," Safwat Samaan, director of Nation Without Borders, a human rights advocacy group, told World Watch Monitor, quoting sources who had attended the hearings.
Blasphemy cases against Christians and non-Muslims often trigger mob violence in the country, which puts the court under pressure, and hinders it from conducting a fair trial.
"Back in 2012, the defense team was mobbed by scores of angry people around and inside the courthouse shouting, 'Are you Muslims or what?' The lawyers were themselves accused of apostasy and had to be spirited from the court's security office," said Ishak Ibrahim from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).
The World Watch Monitor asked Garas about his experience in the jail. And he said, "...thank God in all things. We are subject to the will of Him who works all things together for good."
"The time I spent in prison made me draw really closer to God. It was more or less a retreat time for me with Him."
"Despite the dangerous charges leveled against me, I could see God's hand throughout. Even fellow inmates in both the Wadi-el-Gedid and Menya prisons were kind to me. They could see that I was being unjustly treated," he added.