Published On: Sat, Mar 22nd, 2014

Blasphemy case: Hearing of Aasia Bibi’s appeal deferred, again

March 18, 2014
Aasia Bibi’s appeal was to be taken up at the Lahore High Court on Monday more than three years after it was filed but once again could not be taken up.
The case was fixed for hearing before a division bench.
Earlier, a hearing was fixed for hearing on February 14 but was also cancelled.
Advocate Anis Saadi, chairman of the Free Legal Aid and Settlement (FLAS), whose team is representing Aasia Bibi, told The Express Tribune that this was the second time the case could not be heard and the list of cases fixed before the bench had been cancelled.
He said lawyers and judges sometimes avoided dealing with such cases. He said Bibi had received threats from fellow inmates and her jailers at Sheikhupura Jail. He said she was badly beaten by a jail staffer in October 2011.
“I don’t think my client is safe in prison,” he said.
He said Bibi’s conviction for blasphemy was inconsistent with the evidence. He said the appeal court would likely reduce her sentence, if not acquit her altogether.
He said the record of her trial showed that there were several loopholes in the prosecution’s case, including her extrajudicial confession, inconsistencies in the testimony of prosecution witnesses and procedural lapses.
Advocate Yasin Badar, a member of FLAS, said on the previous hearing, he was threatened for pursuing the case. He said judges must be under some pressure because there was no other reason why the hearing could be cancelled twice. He said the judge hearing her appeal went on a leave on the last hearing.
He said he was informed by the LHC administration through an SMS that the cause list had been “cancelled by order.”
Bibi, 45, has been jailed since June 19, 2009, when her neighbours in a village near Nankana Sahib accused her of making derogatory remarks about the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him).
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2014.

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