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Asia Bibi’s death sentence temporarily suspended by Pakistan’s supreme court

Protesters demand the release of Asia Bibi in Lahore in 2010 (CNS)

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian who was sentenced to death for blasphemy, has had her execution temporarily suspended after Pakistan’s supreme court agreed to hear her appeal.

Ms 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 the Prophet Muhammad, which is a capital offence in Pakistan. She was convicted of the charge and sentenced to death in 2010.

Ms Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, told AFP after the hearing earlier today that the Lahore high court have 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, before adding that the court will fix 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 Ms Bibi’s husband Ashiq Mashi wrote to Pakistan’s presiden’s Mamnoon Hussain, to ask for her to be pardoned and allowed to move to France.

Previously, in an interview with Vatican Radio, Asia Bibi’s lawyer Joseph Nadeem highlighted the importance of the international community putting pressure on the Pakistani government to free Ms Bibi.

BLOG: Enough is enough, AsiaBibi’s false imprisonment must end immediately, by Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith