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Saturday, 5 August, 2000, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
Pakistan death sentence for blasphemy

A court in the Pakistani city of Lahore has sentenced to death a Muslim spiritual leader on a blasphemy charge for presenting himself as a prophet of Islam.

The leader, Mohammed Yusuf Ali, had been accused of misguiding Muslims.

During the trial, which lasted more than a year, Mr Ali -- a former army officer -- consistently denied the charges.

The blasphemy law in Pakistan calls for the death penalty for anyone found guilty of insulting Islam.

Human rights groups say the law has often been misused against religious minorities. Earlier this year, Pakistan's military ruler, General Pervez Musharraf, changed the legal procedure to discourage the misuse of the blasphemy law.

But, under pressure from the Islamic lobby, he reversed the decision.

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