Asia Bibi: Pakistan lifts Christian woman's death sentence for blasphemy

Bibi has been on death row since 2010 after being convicted of blasphemy against Islam

The Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death over blasphemy allegations. 30 AM, the court announced that they have acquitted Asia of all charges, demanding her immediate release. Later on, in 2010, a court in district Nankana awarded her capital punishment, which was later challenged and upheld by a two-member bench of Lahore High Court in 2014.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of the release of Bibi, who was eight years ago accused and sentenced for "insulting Islam".

Bibi was condemned for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim. "We knew that she is innocent", he said.

Bibi was convicted and sentenced to hangby trial court in 2010.

Demonstrations broke out in major cities across the country following the verdict, with approximately a thousand club-wielding demonstrators blocking Islamabad's main highway as several roads in the port city of Karachi were barricaded by protesters sparking chaotic traffic jams.

She's been sitting in prison ever since with the threat of violent execution hanging over her head.

Bibi was not in court to hear the ruling, and AFP news agency quoted her as saying by phone: "I can't believe what I am hearing, will I go out now?" Dozens have been killed following blasphemy claims, sometimes by mobs of men.

Before the verdict, Bibi's lawyer told AP: "I have lost my health".

His announcement is a victory for human rights activists, who say religious minorities in Pakistan are routinely targeted and baseless allegations of blasphemy levied against them to settle personal vendettas.

Meanwhile, CJP Nisar had observed that committing blasphemy was the most appalling and spiteful offence, and not only "our laws but the fundamentals of our religion also place strict standards of proof to prove the crime".

Prosecutors alleged that in the row which followed, the women said Asia Bibi should convert to Islam and that she made three offensive comments about the Prophet Muhammad in response.

The governor of Punjab province, Salmaan Taseer, was murdered in 2011 after he spoke in defence of Bibi and called for reform of blasphemy laws.

Bibi's representatives have claimed she was involved in a dispute with her neighbours and that her accusers had contradicted themselves.

Asia Bibi, who has four children, was the first woman to be sentenced to death under the laws.

Mumtaz Qadri was hanged for the killing but has been hailed a martyr by hardliners.

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