JournalismPakistan.com November 25, 2014
ISLAMABAD: An anti-terrorism court on Tuesday awarded 26-year jail term to owner of the country's major media group for airing "blasphemous contents" during a TV program, court officials said.
The court also ordered the arrest of Mir Shakil ur Rehman, who owns the Jang group of publications that includes independent Geo Television and the English daily The News. The court in northern areas of Gilgit-Baltistan also announced jail term for known actress Veena Malik, her husband Asad Malik and Shista Lodhi, who had hosted the controversial program.
None of the accused was present in the court at the time of the announcement of the verdict.
The judge Raja Shehbaz Khan also imposed a penalty of 1.3 million rupees each on all the convicts, who have the right to appeal against the judgment.
Waqar Ahmad, secretary to the judge, told the media the court ordered the local administration to confiscate properties of the convicts if they did not surrender to the authorities.
All convicts are believed to have gone abroad.
A petition, filed in May this year, had stated that the convicts had "used derogatory language for "committing blasphemy by airing objectionable contents" against the family of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
Officials said all convicts can file appeal against the verdict in the Chief Court in Gilgit-Baltistan, which is equal to a High Court.
Geo TV had aired the controversial morning show on May 14 that had prompted criticism from religious circles. The TV had publicly apologized over the program and also published apology in the group's English and Urdu newspapers.
The program was aired to celebrate the wedding of famous film and TV drama actress Veena Malik.
The management later said the host had unintentionally committed a mistake in the program namely Uthu Jago Pakistan (Wake up Pakistan). Religious groups had also staged rallies against the media group.- Xinhua
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