July 22, 2015
Pakistan’s top court on Wednesday stopped execution of a Christian woman who had been on death row since 2010 over blasphemy charges, lawyers said.
Asia Bibi, a 50-year-old, was arrested in Nankana district in central Punjab province in 2009 over alleged “insult to Prophet Muhammad.” She had, however, denied the charges and had told the court that neighbors had leveled charges against her over ” personal differences.”
A local court in Nankana had awarded Asia Bibi’s death sentence. She became the first non-Muslim lady to get death penalty. A high court had upheld the sentence.
Asia, mother of 5 children, had challenged death penalty in the Supreme Court.
A 3-member bench of the apex court stayed the execution and admitted her petition for formal hearing, her defence lawyer Saiful Malook said. The court sought all record of the case and ruled that she would not be executed until it delivers verdict on her appeal.
Malook told the court that the Lahore High Court had “not fulfilled legal requirements” while upholding the death penalty of his client.
Asia Bibi was accused of “offering insulting remarks” about the Prophet Muhammad during discussions with Muslim women in June 2009.
Denying the charges, she had informed the court that she was” forced to convert to Islam”and that she was charged after her refusal.