Asia Bibi verdict: Pakistan court overturns blasphemy death sentence

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Insulting Islam's prophet is punishable by death under Pakistani law, and blasphemy accusations stir such emotions that they are nearly impossible to defend against.

A Christian woman in Pakistan on death row for almost a decade after she allegedly contaminated a water jug - an offense viewed as blasphemy in the Muslim country - was acquitted by the country's top court on Wednesday. The court directed that Aasia Bibi be immediately released from jail if she is not wanted in any other cases.

As with her previous trials and appeals, large crowds gathered outside the court in Islamabad on Wednesday demanding her conviction be upheld and the execution carried out.

Chief Justice Saqib Nisar read the ruling from the bench in Islamabad, saying the prosecution "categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt", the BBC reports.

The workers had refused to drink from a bucket of water Asia Bibi had touched because she was not Muslim. Let us know in the comments.

Bibi says she was falsely accused and is very respectful of Muslims and Mohammed.

Even criticising the law or defending the blasphemy accused can lead to death. Both men supported Bibi and had called for an end to Pakistan's Blasphemy Law.

On Oct 13 this year, the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan, a religio-political party headed by Khadim Hussain Rizvi, threatened to "paralyse the country within hours if the Supreme Court sets Asia Bibi free".

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Ms Bibi's family and her lawyer say she never insulted the prophet.

The decision is a victory for human rights activists, who said the country's blasphemy law has been used to settle personal scores or to attack minority communities. The law does not clearly define blasphemy and evidence might not be reproduced in court for fear of committing a fresh offence.

"Finally Asia Bibi has won", her lawyer, Saiful Malook, told The Times.

This case took life of a former sitting Governor of Punjab Province Salman Taseer when he was killed by his bodyguard on January 4, 2011at Kohsar Market of Islamabad for supporting the release of Asia Bibi.

A trial court convicted Bibi for blasphemy in November 2010 and sentenced her to death.

Ms Bibi's representatives have claimed she was involved in a dispute with her neighbours and her accusers had contradicted themselves.

The Vatican had also appealed and called for the release of Ms Bibi, and Pope Francis met with her husband, Ashiq Masih, and daughter earlier this year. His assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, was executed in 2016 and has been feted as a hero by hardliners, with a shrine to him built by Islamists just outside the capital.