A disabled Christian man and his wife sentenced to death in Pakistan for blasphemy against Islam said they were tortured by police into confessing.
Shafqat Emmanuel, also known as Masih, and Shagufta Kausar were found guilty of sending a text message in 2013 that authorities said blasphemed the Prophet Mohammed.
The couple, who have four children, deny ever sending the text, saying the phone had been stolen from them months before the message was allegedly sent.
Emmanuel, who is paralyzed from the waist down, told media he confessed to the crime because he could not stand watching his wife be tortured by police, reported the Central European Christian news agency, BosNewsLife.
“There was no evidence that the text messages came from a phone owned by the couple,” said Farukh Saif, an official of World Vision in Progress, who is giving the pair legal aid.
Rights activists said false accusations of blasphemy are common in Pakistan and observers said laws are often abused for personal gain, to settle scores, or to incite religious hatred against minority communities.
An appeal against the death sentence is scheduled to be heard in Lahore High Court on March 5.