11/30/2010, 00.00
PAKISTAN

Lahore High Court to issue date for Asia Bibi’s appeal

by Jibran Khan
President Zardari’s legal expert says the woman was convicted without been able to present her side of the story. “Some people are trying to politicise the matter and create a gap between the judiciary and the government,” a presidential spokesman says. The AsiaNews online petition on behalf of Asia Bibi and against the blasphemy law continues.
Lahore (AsiaNews) – Everyone is waiting for the Lahore High Court to set the date to hear the appeal launched by Asia Bibi’s lawyers against her death sentence on blasphemy charges. In the meantime, a legal expert for Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari tells AsiaNews that Christian woman was tried and convicted without submitting her side of the story to the court.

Bibi’s lawyer Allah Bakhsha Leghari told AsiaNews that the chief justice of the Lahore High Court, Khawaja Sharif, yesterday barred the country's president from pardoning the Christian woman before it ruled on her appeal. When contacted by AsiaNews, Justice Khawaja Sharif refused to comment the claim, but his clerk denied the Lahore High Court has issued any such orders.

“The Lahore High Court cannot issue an order telling the president what he can do or not do. So far, we have not received anything in written. Some people are trying to politicise the matter and create a gap between the judiciary and the government,” presidential spokesman Farharullah Babar told AsiaNews.

“The President has not denied the pardon to Asia Bibi, he is only waiting for the Lahore High Court to issue its orders,” presidential legal expert Bilal Hussain told AsiaNews.

“A session court in Quetta sentenced a Muslim woman to ten years, without hearing her side of the story,” he explained. “She was accused of throwing and tearing a copy of the Qur‘an during “a fight with her mother in-law. When her husband came home, the mother told her son that his wife has misbehaved with her. The wife went inside and brought the Qur‘an and swore on it that his mother was lying. The husband did not believe her. She then threw the Qur‘an on the floor in anger, and the Qur‘an came apart. She did not intend any disrespect, but her mental state is not stable, and her actions were unintentional. In the end, the High Court acquitted her. In the case of Asia Bibi, I feel the same; she was sentenced without hearing her side of the story."

Meanwhile, AsiaNews’ online petition on Asia Bibi’s behalf continues. So far, more than 5,000 e-mail messages have arrived at salviamoasiabibi@asianews.it.

In Italy, about a thousand signatures were collected on paper from the town of Correggio. More than a hundred came from the Residenza Assistenziale San Giuseppe in San Benedetto del Tronto.

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