Full text of Supreme Court’s judgement in Aasia Bibi case
31 October, 2018, 12:14 | Author: Charlene Valdez
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned the conviction of a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam's prophet, ordering her to be freed if she was not accused of any other crime. Consequently, the conviction as also the sentence of death awarded to the appellant is set aside and she is acquitted of the charge.
"The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed".
Given the probing questions from the Justices during arguments on appeal and Pakistan's history of never executing a death sentence in a blasphemy case, the only reason for the Supreme Court to uphold Asia's conviction would be the extreme pressure from Islamic groups that has now engulfed the country, including threats against the Justices.
Ms Asia Bibi's case drew the attention of worldwide rights groups and swiftly became the most high-profile in the country.
On October 8, the top court had reserved its judgment on the appeal of the Christian mother of four, who in 2010 became the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy law.
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Asia Bibi was accused of insulting Prophet Muhammad during an argument with a group of women in her neighbourhood near Lahore in 2009.
Asia Bibi, 47, had been on death row for eight years.
The leader of the Tehreek-e-Labaik (TLP) party also called for the ouster of Prime Minister Imran Khan's government over the case of Asia Bibi, who was acquitted by a Supreme Court panel earlier in the day. "We knew that she is innocent", he said.
Ms Bibi's husband Ashiq Masih hailed Wednesday's verdict.
The Supreme Court's verdict was officially decided on October 8, but not publicly announced until Wednesday.
"The verdict has shown that the poor, the minorities and the lowest segments of society can get justice in this country despite its shortcomings", Bibi's lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook said.
"Pakistan's Supreme Court must be appreciated that it upheld the law of the land and didn't succumb to any pressure". The women said that because she had drunk from a cup they could no longer use it, as her faith had made it unclean. 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. His assassin Mumtaz Qadri was executed in 2016 after the court found him guilty of murder.
Islam is Pakistan's national religion and underpins its legal system.
Rights groups say the blasphemy law is exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores.
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