Blow for bid to free Leith grocer Mohammed Asghar

Mohammad Asghar
Mohammad Asghar

A CAMPAIGN to free Leith shopkeeper Mohammed Asghar – who has been on death row in Pakistan for two years – has suffered a blow after court proceedings collapsed.

It was reported that a hearing due to take place last week which could have secured his freedom was cancelled after prosecutors failed to turn up.

The pensioner, who has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, was first arrested in 2010 after being accused of writing letters claiming to be the prophet Muhammad.

He was sentenced to death on a charge of blasphemy in January 2014 despite appeals by medical professionals.

His tragic plight has been highlighted in the House of Commons and more than 70,000 people have signed a petition calling for his release.

Daughter Jasmine Rana reportedly said: “It is so upsetting that it has come to nothing again. We’re back to waiting just because someone doesn’t turn up at court.

“All this time is getting wasted and in the meantime my dad is still in the same place.

“It feels like we’re just waiting around for bad news.”

Mr Asghar left Edinburgh for Pakistan in 2010, shortly after being discharged from the Capital’s Royal Victoria Hospital, where he had been sectioned under the Mental Health Act. The court which convicted him was not told details of his health problems.

It is believed he is currently held in a windowless room and only allowed to leave to walk the corridor for half an hour each day, while failing eyesight has left him unable to read.