Asia Bibi Is Finally Free to Leave Pakistan
Supreme Court rejects petition to review acquittal of her blasphemy death sentence.
Today the Supreme Court of Pakistan upheld its decision to acquit Asia Bibi.
In one of the most high-profile Christian persecution cases in the past decade, Bibi spent eight years in prison convicted of blasphemy against the Prophet Muhammad—which is a crime punishable by death in the Islamic Republic—until the Supreme Court rejected her conviction last October.
The acquittal stated that while “blasphemy is a serious offense,” truth tainted with “falsehood” could not be the basis for her conviction in a lower trial court. A review petition was filed the next day by the local cleric who levied the allegations against Bibi in the first place, Muhammad Salaam, demanding the three judges look at the case again and challenging Bibi’s freedom.
“Based on merit, this petition is dismissed,” stated Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, who heard the case in Islamabad today along with Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel.
Akmal Bhatti, a Christian lawyer and chairman of Minorities Alliance Pakistan, attended the hearing and told CT that the judges observed that Salaam’s lawyer, Ghulam Ikram, failed to present any new facts or identify any mistake in the earlier decision in Bibi’s favor.
Ikram “made it a case of religious sentiment, while the judges required their counsel present any legal lacuna in the judgment,” said Bhatti.
“The verdict was given on the basis of testimonies,” the chief justice asked Ikram. “Does Islam say that one should be punished even if they are found not guilty?”
The lawyer admitted that “burden of proof” was on the petitioner, so Khosa asked if he disagreed with the basic legal rule of …
July 16, 2019