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Supreme Court overturns Asia Bibi’s death sentence, orders immediate release

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Wednesday set aside the conviction of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman condemned to death for blasphemy.  

Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar read out the verdict, exonerating Asia Bibi from blasphemy charges and ordering her immediate release if she was not wanted in another case.

“The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed. Her conviction is set aside,” said the top judge.

This verdict came on an appeal filed by the woman challenging her capital punishment.

CJP Nisar authored the 56-pages long verdict which also carried a separate concurring opinion by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, a member of the bench which had heard the case.

Asia Bibi reacts to her acquittal

“I can’t believe what I am hearing, will i go out now? Will they let me out, really?” Bibi told AFP  by phone from prison after the ruling.

“I just don’t know what to say, I am very happy, I can’t believe it.”

“The verdict has shown that the poor, the minorities and the lowest segments of society can get justice in this country despite its shortcomings,” said her lawyer Saif-ul-Mulook.

“This is the biggest and happiest day of my life.”

Asia Bibi, a mother of five, had been on death row since 2010, when Pope Benedict XVI joined in international calls for her release.

In 2015 her daughter met with Pope Francis, who as the head of the Catholic Church offered prayers for her mother.

Ms Bibi was arrested after three women went to a local cleric in Sheikhupura, to report her and the trial court convicted and sentenced her to death.

She appealed to the Lahore High Court, which upheld the decision in October 2014, with the case ending up at the Supreme Court.

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