Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian who was sentenced to death for blasphemy, has had her execution temporarily suspended after the country’s supreme court agreed to hear her appeal.
Mrs Bibi was arrested in 2009 after being involved in a dispute over a water bowl with a group of Muslim women she was working with. The women accused her of blasphemy, saying she insulted Mohammed, a capital offence in Pakistan. She was convicted of the charge and sentenced to death in 2010.
Mrs Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, told media after the hearing last week that the Lahore high court had accepted the petition of his client to appeal.
“The supreme court today accepted the petition of my client to appeal against death sentence confirmation by the Lahore high court,” he said.
He added that the court would decide a date in due course to review the substance of the appeal.
Naveed Aziz, an officer for the British Pakistani Christian Association, said in an update from the courtroom in Islamabad: “Sister Asia will have to spend more time in jail, but her freedom is now a real possibility and only a matter of time.”
Since the case caught the attention of human rights groups worldwide, pressure has mounted on the Pakistani authorities to acquit her of the charges. In November last year Mrs Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Mashi, wrote to Pakistan’s president Mamnoon Hussain to ask for her to be pardoned and allowed to move to France.
Previously, in an interview with Vatican Radio, Joseph Nadeem, another lawyer representing Mrs Bibi, highlighted the importance of the international community in putting pressure on the Pakistani government to free his client.
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