Chief Justice of Pakistan urged to appoint new bench to hear Asia Bibi’s blasphemy appeal

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Despite postponement, hopes for Asia Bibi’s acquittal are high. Her defense lawyers have submitted an application to the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali, to appoint another bench for the case hearing as soon as possible.

Asia Bibi's appeal case

Christian respondent’s lawyers have requested the Chief Justice to immediately appoint another judge or new bench to hear the appeal case. Previously, court was adjourned during last hearing on October 13, when Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rehman, one of the three judges hearing the case said that he does not wants to be part of the case. “I was a part of the bench that was hearing the case of Salmaan Taseer, and this case is related to that,” he told the court.

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While remarking in this regard, Nasir Saeed Director of CLAAS-UK stated: “Even after the postponement we are still very hopeful that at the next hearing the charges against Asia will be dropped.” CLAAS is a Christian charity group that provides free legal assistance to Pakistani Christians embroiled in blasphemy cases.

“But – he added – I am also scared that there can be tremendous repercussions for the Christians in Pakistan. If her conviction is upheld, then she can appeal to the president of Pakistan, who has the power to grant a pardon.”

He further stated, that this is beyond doubt that “pressure will be further built by Islamists groups” and recalled that “so far no one has been executed for blasphemy in Pakistan. It is very important that the government takes this matter seriously and takes security measures before the appeal hearing” and asked the institutions to “ensure protection and assistance to victims of false accusations of blasphemy and to their families.”