Pakistan blasphemy appeal postponed again

No genuine reason given

Yesterday's appeal hearing of 'Asia Bibi', the Christian Pakistani woman who was sentenced to death for blasphemy in 2010, has been postponed as judges fear retaliations from Islamic extremist groups, reports Vatican Insider.

Asia Bibi, the 42-year-old Pakistani woman who was sentenced to death for blasphemy will be spending Easter behind bars, in Multan women’s prison, after any faint hope of the case reaching a turning point before the holiday faded before the steely resistance of the Lahore’s high court.

This is the fourth time in two months that the trial has been postponed, with the court’s bureaucracy slowing things down. Yesterday’s hearing was cancelled due to the absence of one of the two presiding judges. The court’s administration seems to be playing with this woman’s life, denying her justice.

Asia Bibi’s appeal was filed with the High Court in November 2010, three days after she was sentenced to death. But mainly thanks to religious and political pressure, a date for the proceedings was set four years later.

At least that is what the defence team, made up of Christian and Muslim lawyers, hoped after a date for the first hearing was set last February.

This is when the 'litany of postponements' began, with all sorts of reasons being presented: first the lawyers arguing against Asia Bisbi’s case were absent, then one of the judges was ill, then the college of judges adjourned the hearing (because one judge was transferred) and the case passed on to another college.

All of the reasons given were plausible until yesterday, when lawyers announced the hearing was being postponed 'to a later date.' 

The huge media attention the case has received – after appeals were made by Benedict XVI, the European Parliament and international leaders – is in fact a double-edged sword.

FULL STORY 

Asia Bibi appeal postponed again (The Insider)

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