Pakistan condemns 3 to death for blasphemy

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An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has handed death sentences to three people for social media posts deemed insulting to the Muslim prophet Mohammed under the country's controversial blasphemy laws.

A fourth accused, a college teacher, was sentenced to 10 years in jail for a "blasphemous" lecture he had delivered, court official Istifamul Haq said.

Judge Raja Jawad announced the decision on the charges filed in 2017 in the capital Islamabad, Haq said.

The accused can appeal in two higher courts to overturn their conviction, or ask for mercy from the president.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws, which were introduced by former military ruler Muhammad Zia-ul Haq in the 1980s, allow for a death sentence as the maximum punishment for insulting the religion or the prophet Mohammed.

Rights activists said laws have been used against the followers of other religions and minority Muslim faiths like Shia and Ahmadiyya in the Sunni-majority country.