Lawyer for British man on death row in Pakistan asks that he be kept in hospital after attack



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ISLAMABAD — A lawyer for a mentally-ill British man on death row in Pakistan for blasphemy asked authorities Thursday to keep his client in hospital after a prison guard shot and wounded him.

Mohammed Asghar's attorney said his life would be in danger if he is taken back to prison.

"An emergency application has been lodged as Mr. Asghar's health has deteriorated following the shooting," the attorney, Aamer Anwar, said in a statement.

Asghar was wounded last week when a prison guard opened fire on him at the high-security Adyala Jail in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. The attacker was quickly arrested by other guards.

Asghar was arrested in 2010 for claiming to be the Prophet Muhammad. He was sentenced in January to death on charges of blasphemy.

Anwar said Asghar was currently in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital, and that he "developed a high fever overnight and it is suspected a chest infection may be spreading to his left lung. Doctors have recommended that he be kept in hospital for close observation and treatment for a further 72 hours."

No government official was immediately available for comment.

Scores of people have been arrested in Pakistan under the country's strict blasphemy laws, which carry sentences of life in prison or the death penalty. Rights groups say the laws often are exploited for personal gain.

Pakistan imposed a moratorium on executions in 2008. It has never actually executed anyone convicted under blasphemy laws and such cases mostly linger on appeals and in higher courts.

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Associated Press Writer Danica Kirka in London contributed to this report.

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