Blasphemy life sentence for Pakistani Christian
A PAKISTANI Christian, Zafar Bhatti, has been sentenced to life in prison by a Pakistani court for alleged blasphemy. Mr Bhatti, who has always denied the charges, was arrested in 2012 and accused of sending blasphemous text messages from his phone. The Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance, and Settlement, which supports Christians persecuted in Pakistan and has been organising Mr Bhatti’s legal defence, said that they would appeal to a higher court. There was no evidence against Mr Bhatti, the Centre’s director, Nasir Saaed, said, but the courts were afraid to release Christians accused of blasphemy because of threats from Islamists.
Islamic State claims responsibility for Egyptian murder
A 50-year-old Christian, Nabil Saber Ayoub, was shot and killed on Saturday evening while he was at a barber’s shop in the coastal city of El-Arish, on the Sinai peninsula in northern Egypt. The Associated Press reported the murder, for which Islamic State group claimed responsibility. It has been waging an insurgency in Sinai for several years, and has also been behind the killings of dozens of Christians in recent months (News, 10 April).
Pope Francis to feature in film at Cannes
A FEATURE film, Beyond The Sun, about four children from different cultures trying to live like Jesus, will feature a cameo role for Pope Francis. It is believed to be the first such papal appearance in a film. The film, reportedly made at the request of the Pope, will be released at the Cannes Film Festival this month.
Nun charged with complicity in abuse
A JAPANESE-BORN Roman Catholic nun in Argentina, Sister Kosaka Kumiko, has been charged with assisting priests to abuse children sexually at a school for the deaf. She is also accused of abusing some herself, and covering up evidence of the crimes. Two priests and three other men were arrested last year after at least 24 former students from the school came forward to tell of their ordeals. Sister Kosaka denies the charges.
Let rival return, bishops urge Congolese President
THE Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has urged the country’s President, Joseph Kabila, to allow the leader of the opposition movement, Moïse Katumbi, back into the country. He has been in exile after since facing arrest on charges that he describes as politically motivated. In a letter, the Bishops urge President Kabila to allow Mr Katumbi to re-enter the DRC “as a free man and exercise his civil and political rights”. Last year, the Bishops negotiated an agreement whereby Mr Kabila, who has overstayed his presidential mandate by more than four months, would stand down, and elections would be held (News, 22 December). This is yet to be fulfilled.