Asia Bibi’s appeal once again postponed

The latest postponement results from tactics of the counterparty, Muslim religious leader Mullah Qari Muhammad Sallam.

Pakistan
Mar 27 2014, 12:35 PM
Asia Bibi’s appeal once again postponed

The first hearing of the appeal for Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman sentenced to death on blasphemy charges, has been postponed for a second time yesterday.

The latest postponement results from tactics of the counterparty, Muslim religious leader Mullah Qari Muhammad Sallam.

Asia Bibi’s defence team said that the counterparty was not present in court when the college of two judges called the case for the opening of the hearing. After 10 minutes, the two judges who were rather annoyed for the lack of respect, decided to grant a further adjournment.

"The judges were calm and wanted to examine the case. The Court will not tolerate such strategies,” the defence team said.

Bibi was arrested in June 2009 on Sallam’s complaint to the police station in the town of Nankana Sahib, accusing Bibi of blasphemy. After investigation, the police submitted its report on July 12 and the case went to trial in the court of first instance in Nankana Sahib, before Judge Naveed Iqbal.

Asia was sentenced to death on November 8, 2010 by the court of first instance.

An appeal was filed before the Lahore High Court on November 11, 2010. But, it took four years for the Court to consider the appeal due to religious and political pressures.

The first date set on March 17 for the hearing was postponed due to the absence of one of the judges. In cases of appeal for a death sentence, there is a panel of judges composed of two judges. According to existing procedures, both should be present to open hearing.

The case has become a symbol of persecution and misuse of the blasphemy law in Pakistan.

Bibi was accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad, during an argument with her Muslim co-workers on June 14, 2009. It turned out that the real issue was the Muslim women objected to Bibi drinking from a cup at a public well. They considered that her (a Christian’s) use of the public well made it "unclean".

The working group of the European Parliament on freedom of religion is following closely Asia Bibi’s case and other cases involving the blasphemy laws in Pakistan that the European Parliament calls to reform, in order to avoid abuse, or repeal.

Source: Agenzia Fides

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