Published: Wed, October 31, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has death penalty conviction overturned

Pakistani Christian Asia Bibi has death penalty conviction overturned

Asia Bibi, a mother of four, has been living on death row since 2010 when she became the first woman to be sentenced to death by hanging under Pakistan's blasphemy laws. "Her conviction is set aside", said Justice Nisar in the ruling.

David Curry, CEO of Open Doors USA, an organization that lobbies on behalf of Christian minorities, said in a statement that "we are breathing a sigh of relief today".

Mr Masih said: "I am very happy".

Her appeal case is now pending with the Supreme Court of Pakistan. "She is acquitted of all charges and if not required for any other charges she will be released forthwith".

Further, Justice Khosa "because of some important legal and factual issues involved in the case" chose to record his separate concurring opinion which stated that the prosecution had failed to prove its case against Asia Bibi beyond a reasonable doubt.

She was asked to fetch water, but the Muslim women objected, saying that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl.

Asia Bibi was sentenced to death in 2010 on blasphemy charges.

Demonstrations broke out in major cities across the country following the verdict, with approximately a thousand club-wielding demonstrators blocking Islamabad's main highway as several roads in the port city of Karachi were barricaded by protesters sparking chaotic traffic jams. The judgments of the High Court as well as the Trial Court are reversed. Five days later, a mob accused her of blasphemy.

A special three-person bench headed by Pakistan's top judge, Chief Justice Saqib Nasir, is due to deliver the verdict at 9am local time (0400 GMT), according to a notice by the court.

Human rights groups say Pakistan's blasphemy laws are exploited to settle personal scores.

She has also been a target for hardline Islamists in Pakistan, who have vowed to retaliate if she's released.

In recent years, it has also been weaponised to smear dissenters and politicians.

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan protest against the court decision to overturn the conviction of Christian woman Asia Bibi.

Ms Bibi's case rose to infamy after a regional governor, Salman Taseer, who appealed for leniency for her was murdered in a public square in the capital by his own bodyguard.

"There are also contradictions regarding how the notice of the incident was taken and the complainant has said the decision to register an FIR against Bibi was taken amid a group of people", he had upheld.

Taseer's son Shahbaz tweeted "Pakistan Zindabad", meaning "Long live Pakistan", following the ruling.

Such protests will distract Prime Minister Imran Khan's government, which is attempting to deal with an economy in crisis owing to dwindling finances.

Like this: