Pakistan’s Supreme Court Reserves Judgment in Asia Bibi’s Final Appeal
Apex Court’s Decision Will Bring Close to Pakistan’s Most Visible Case of Persecution
10/08/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that the final appeal for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy against the prophet Muhammad, was heard by Pakistan’s Supreme Court earlier today, October 8. According to sources reached by ICC, the three-judge bench, led by Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel, have already reserved their decision regarding Bibi’s death sentence.
According to these sources, although the decision to reserve the judgment against Bibi has been made, the court has ordered the media not to comment until the decision is formally announced. This formal announcement could be made at any time.
“I’m very hopeful for Asia’s release and acquittal,” Sajid Christopher, President of Human Friends Organization, told ICC. “[Bibi’s lawyer], Advocate Saif-Ul-Malook, prepared very well. He pointed out all the contradictions in the FIR and witness statements. I am very confident that Asia is innocent.”
In October 2016, the Supreme Court of Pakistan indefinitely adjourned Bibi’s appeal after one of the three justices hearing the case recused himself. Since then, Bibi’s appeal was pending before the Supreme Court.
Bibi has been on death row since her conviction and death sentence were announced by the Sessions Court in District Nankana, Punjab in 2010. Her High Court appeal was also delayed and rescheduled seven times, but was finally held on October 16, 2014 at the Lahore High Court. During that appeal, Justice Anwar-ul-Haq, one member of a two-judge bench, confirmed Bibi’s death sentence. On July 22, 2015, the Supreme Court of Pakistan accepted Bibi’s petition for her case to be reviewed and suspended her death sentence.
The blasphemy accusation against Bibi is based on flimsy evidence from a dispute that took place in June 2009 between Bibi and a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries in Sheikhupura. The Muslim women became angry with Bibi when she, a Christian whom they considered unclean, drank water from the same water bowl as the Muslim women. An argument between Bibi and the Muslim women ensued and the Muslim women later reported to a local cleric that Bibi had blasphemed against the prophet Muhammad.
ICC’s Regional Manager, William Stark, said, “It is amazing to see Asia may finally receive justice after almost a decade in prison. It has been nine long years since Asia had this false blasphemy accusation completely change her life. We here at ICC are hopeful that the Supreme Court will soon formally announce Asia’s acquittal. It is ICC’s hope that, with this decision, the Supreme Court will lay a foundation for reforming Pakistan’s notorious blasphemy laws and signal to both Pakistan and the world that justice will prevail over extremism, even when a religious minority is accused of blasphemy.”
For interviews with William Stark, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org