Pak SC rejects review plea against Christian woman’s acquittal

| | Islamabad
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Pak SC rejects review plea against Christian woman’s acquittal

Wednesday, 30 January 2019 | PTI | Islamabad

Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected a review petition against its decision to acquit Christian woman Aasia Bibi who was on death row for eight years on charges of blasphemy, in a major setback to hardline Islamists who had demanded her execution.

Bibi, a 47-year-old mother of four, who is now in protective custody, was convicted in 2010 after being accused of insulting Islam in a row with her neighbours. She always maintained her innocence, but spent most of the past eight years in solitary confinement.

The apex court’s decision in October last to overturn her conviction sparked nationwide violent protests and death threats from hardline Islamist groups. The protests subsided when the government allowed the protesters to file a review petition against Bibi’s acquittal.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, on Tuesday dismissed the review petition filed by local prayer leader Qari Muhammad Salaam as the plea failed to point out any flaw in the verdict of the court that acquitted Bibi.

During the hearing, Salaam’s lawyer said that the matter of Bibi’s acquittal is a matter concerning the Muslim clergy and religious scholars should also be called to present their point of view.

“How is this a matter of religion?” the chief justice asked. “Has the verdict not been given on merit?”

“The verdict was given on the basis of testimonies; does Islam say that one should be punished even if they are found not guilty?” he asked.

“Tell us where we failed to take into account testimony or where we misread the testimonies,” Justice Khosa asked.

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