A three-judge panel at Pakistan’s Supreme Court delayed handing down its verdict on Aasia Bibi’s final appeal against her death sentence for “blasphemy” on Monday, 8 October. She has spent nearly eight years on death row since being convicted, and nine years altogether in prison.
If the Supreme Court refuses to grant her appeal against the sentence Aasia could face execution. Her only remaining recourse to avoid the mandatory death penalty would be a direct appeal to Pakistan’s president for clemency.
A previous planned hearing of her case by the Supreme Court collapsed in October 2016 after one of the three judges assigned recused himself. It has taken many years for her case to finally come before the court, but no date has been given for when the judges will announce their ruling.
Aasia Bibi was sentenced to death for “blasphemy” in 2010 after she was accused of insulting Muhammad by Muslim female field labourers with whom she worked. They had refused to drink water she had fetched because she was a Christian, and she defended her faith. She was found guilty of “defiling the name of Muhammad” under Section 295-C of the Pakistani Penal code, which is a capital offence. She denies the blasphemy charge. A number of Christians and others are currently on death row, but to date no one has been executed under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code which has a mandatory death sentence for defiling the name of Muhammad.
Barnabas Fund are supporting Aasia Bibi’s family with a monthly food parcel and have helped to purchase a house and fund the installation of a gas supply for it. Aasia’s husband and children had to go into hiding for their own safety after she was accused.
Barnabas Fund, barnabasfund.org