The first hearing of the trial of Asia Bibi’s petition was scheduled for Monday morning on 17 March, in front of the High Court in Lahore but was postponed due to the absence of one of the judges, as its Pakistan’s law that two judges must be present for the hearing of petition against death sentence. Head of the defense team and a Christian lawyer Naeem Shakir, said he was convinced Asia has “a good chance for a full independence”.
Commenting on the case, Director of the Peace Centre in Lahore, Dominican Fr James Channan said: “If judges apply the principles of justice and act without bias, Asia Bibi will be declared innocent and released. We cherish hopes because, in the past, when blasphemy cases reached the High Court, justice was not carried out and the accused were acquitted, stating that it was a false or instrumental accusation. The courts of first instance are more inclined to pressure from fundamentalists” he explained. “But when these cases reach the High Court often these methods do not work, and this is a good thing. Unfortunately in the past honest judges paid with their lives. We want a fair and transparent trial”.
He said: “Asia Bibi has become a icon of persecution and how the blasphemy law is abused, with unfounded accusations. Today, her case has become the centre of attention of the government, NGOs and activists for human rights, the international community and Churches.