Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has death penalty conviction overturned

Asia Bibi was sentenced in 2010
Credit
Reuters

Speaking to Premier from Islamabad, Mehwish Bhatti from the British Pakistani Christian Association said: "There are so many blasphemy victims - Christian victims - who are still in prison and are on death sentence like Asia Bibi".

"The appeal is allowed. She is acquitted of all charges and if not required for any other charges she will be released forthwith".

Lawyers, who did not want to speak on the record, noted that although the supreme court had at last taken a stand, the after-effect of the trial would serve to encourage lower courts to pass the weakest cases of blasphemy up to the apex court.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar read the ruling from the bench in Islamabad, saying the prosecution "categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt", the BBC reports. 30 AM, the court announced that they have acquitted Asia of all charges, demanding her immediate release.

Pakistani Christian woman Asia Bibi at a prison in Sheikhupura near Lahore, Pakistan, on November 20, 2010. She had moved the Supreme Court against her conviction.

The pope told Bibi's daughter: "I think often of your mother and I pray for her".

According to available information, Aasiya Bibi also known as Asia Bibi was allegedly involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women objected to a non-Muslim touching the bowl in which she fetched water.

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However, on 7 October, Ashiq Masih, Bibi's husband, said his wife was "spiritually strong" and "ready and willing to die for Christ", adding that she will "never convert to Islam".

This morning's hearing was Ms Bibi's final appeal against execution. In 2011, Salman Taseer, the governor of Punjab province was shot and killed by one of his elite guards for defending Bibi and criticizing misuse of the blasphemy law.

Later, two women refused to drink from the container she had touched because she was not Muslim.

Paramilitary troops have been deployed in Islamabad to prevent protesters from reaching the Supreme Court, where security has been stepped up up to protect the judges and authorities have also put security in place at churches around the country. Dozens have been killed following blasphemy claims, sometimes by mobs of men.

Rights groups say the blasphemy law is exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.

Asia Bibi was accused of committing blasphemy by her co-workers back in 2009. His assassin Mumtaz Qadri was executed in 2016 after the court found him guilty of murder.

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