10/08/2018, 17.27
PAKISTAN
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Court reserves judgement in Asia Bibi case

The Christian woman has been in jail since 2009 on blasphemy charges. Supreme Court justices want to prevent unrest. Journalists have been warned against commenting the case. “After her release, Western countries must offer her asylum immediately,” British Pakistani Christian Association leader says.

Pakistan's Supreme Court today reserved its judgement on the final appeal against the execution of Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death in 2009 on blasphemy charges, this according to the British Pakistani Christian Association reveals it (BPCA), one of the few Christian groups to report the decision.

No date has been announced for the verdict’s announcement but local sources note that the government has warned the media against commenting on or discussing the case.

"I trust this is a good outcome,” said BCPA president Wilson Chowdhry, speaking to AsiaNews. “Asia has been strong and courageous during all the years of imprisonment and has never lost even a shred of her faith.”

The decision by the three-justices panel to delay announcing the verdict is designed to take time to prevent unrest in the country. In fact, while Christians are praying across the country and demanding Bibi’s release, some Muslim radicals are calling for her to be hanged for allegedly insulting Muhammed.

Today the world spotlight is on the court, which banned journalists, mobile phones and other video equipment from the courtroom.

BPCA’S Mehwish Bhatti, who was outside the courthouse along with many other activists, said that high-profile defendants are led in by a secondary entrance, to avoid reporters.

Despite the court’s warning against the media, news about the decision has spread quickly, but the justices are keeping the verdict under wraps for now.

Dr Chowdhry, as well as Bibi’s lawyer, is hopeful. "After her release, Western countries must offer her asylum immediately. She deserves nothing less for her great stoicism."

Her husband, Ashiq Masih is already in Britain and quite concerned. "He fears that his family will never be united again,” Chowdhry explained. “His most serious concern is that even if Asia were to get asylum in Britain, she would probably not be reunited with her married daughters." That means that “she will be separated from her loved ones forever."

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