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Asia Bibi makes last ditch legal appeal to save her life

Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistani Punjab Province, listens to Asia Bibi at a prison near Lahore in 2010 (PA)

Asia Bibi, the Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, is to appeal to the country’s supreme court in a last legal attempt to save her life.

In 2009 she was working in a field with some Muslim women. When she was asked to fetch water the women objected that as a non-Muslim she was unfit to touch the water bowl. They later accused her of blasphemy, which is a capital offence in Pakistan. Accusations of blasphemy are often made in otherwise petty personal disputes. Last month a high court in Lahore upheld the death sentence.

Asia Bibi’s lawyer said the blasphemy accusation was concocted by her enemies and had no basis in fact. He asked the supreme court to reconsider deficiencies in the case including allegedly manipulated evidence.

Ashiq Masih, Asia Bibi’s husband, has written to President Mamnoon Hussain asking that the couple be allowed to leave Pakistan and seek refuge in France.

“No one should be killed for drinking a glass of water,” he wrote in a public letter.

Although no one in Pakistan has been executed for blasphemy, at least 52 people have been killed by vigilantes since 1990, either on accusations of blasphemy or for advocating reform of the law.

When Salmaan Taseer, the governor of Punjab, lobbied for a presidential pardon for Asia Bibi he was assassinated by one of his own bodyguards.