Aasia Bibi at least 2more years in Pak jail waiting appeal?

July 9, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

 

Aasia Bibi has been behind bars since June 2009

Aasia Bibi has been behind bars since June 2009

Pakistan, July 08, 2013: Aasia Bibi, a Christian mother who is languishing on death row in Pakistan, may have to wait at least another two years before the appeal against her blasphemy conviction is heard.

She has been behind bars for over four years, having been accused of making derogatory remarks about Muhammad during an argument with fellow women field-labourers in June 2009. Aasia was sentenced to death after a highly controversial verdict issued in November 2010.

The Christian is being held in Sheikhupura jail awaiting her appeal hearing before the Lahore High Court. This is not expected to take place until 2015 owing to a large backlog of cases; the court is currently hearing appeals that were filed at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009.

The court does have the power to hear cases out of turn upon an application from an aggrieved party. Some cases from 2010, 2011 and 2012 are being heard, but equally, cases can be held back; some from 2005 are still pending.Aslam Pervez Sahotra, chairman of the Human Liberation Commission Pakistan, has lobbied the country’s chief justice for Aasia’s appeal to be heard as soon as possible but has received no response.

He said:

For her safety, and because of the many lacunae in her conviction, her appeal should be heard immediately. We are hopeful she would be acquitted by the High Court.

Rimsha Masih Safe

Meanwhile, Rimsha Masih, the young Christian girl falsely accused last August of burning pages of a Noorani Qaida, a booklet used to learn the basics of the Quran, has begun a new life in Canada.

She left Pakistan with her parents, three sisters and brother on 14 March. Although the charges against the youngster, who has learning difficulties, were dropped, the family had to go into hiding after receiving death threats. People accused of blasphemy in Pakistan are often subject to vigilante justice.

Tahir Mehmood Ashrafi, a Muslim cleric who campaigned for Rimsha’s release, said:

I am sad that this innocent girl had to leave Pakistan. She had been acquitted by the court, and despite that it was not possible for her to live freely.

Rimsha is said to be learning English and enjoying school in Canada.

Pastor Acquited

Karma Patras (56), a pastor accused of blasphemy following a sermon he had given that had angered Muslims, has been acquitted after his accuser withdrew charges on 14 June.

Comments Karma had made last October about the death of Jesus being the ultimate sacrifice, negating the need for animal sacrifices, were taken as an insult to the impending Islamic festival of Eid-ul-Adha, in which Muslims offer a cow, bull, ram or camel.

The man who accused Karma of blasphemy told the court that he had been mistaken.

The pastor’s five sons and their families were forced to leave their village after his arrest, having been threatened by local Muslims that they would be captured and set on fire if they did not go.

– barnabas team

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