Pakistan

SCP agrees to hear Asiya Bibi's blasphemy appeal

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) agreed Wednesday to hear an appeal by a Christian woman, Asiya Bibi against her death sentence for blasphemy, lawyers said, in a case that has drawn criticism from rights campaigners.

Asiya Bibi, a mother of five, has been on death row since 2010 after being convicted of insulting Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) during a row over drinking water with Muslim women with whom she was working in a field.

Bibi’s death sentence was confirmed in October 2014 by the Lahore High Court.

She denies the charges against her and in November appealed against the death sentence. A Supreme Court bench sitting in Lahore on Wednesday agreed to consider the appeal in detail — rejecting the option to dismiss it.

“The Supreme Court today accepted the petition of my client to appeal against death sentence confirmation by the Lahore High Court,” Bibi’s lawyer Saiful Malook told AFP after the hearing.

The court will fix a date in due course to review the substance of the appeal, Malook said.

Chaudhry Ghulam Mustapha, the lawyer for the complainant against Bibi — a local Muslim prayer leader — opposed the petition on the grounds that it had been filed too late.

Justice Saqib Nisar, heading a three-judge Supreme Court bench, said the court would hear this argument in the future proceedings.

At an earlier hearing Malook said he would ask the court to look at flaws in the case including allegedly manipulated evidence.

The lawyer said the blasphemy allegation was concocted by Bibi’s enemies to target her and had no basis in fact.

Bibi’s husband has also written to Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain to ask for her to be pardoned and allowed to move to France.

Critics including European governments say Pakistan’s blasphemy laws are often misused to settle personal scores.-AFP

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