Asia Bibi's Appeal against punishment of death sentence was rejected by the High Court Lahore.

Asia Bibi a Pakistani victim of blasphemy, who was waiting for the hearing on her case appeal against death sentence announced by the Session’s Court District Nankana Punjab since October 2010, was rejected by the High Court Lahore today on October 16, 2014.

The first case hearing on Asia’s appeal was fixed in the Lahore High Court on Mach 17, 2014 when the notices were served to the both parties (complainant and the defendant) to come to the court and the court was fixed for March 26, 2014. After Several adjournments of The Court for Hearing Due to different Reasons, it was finally Heard on October 16, 2014. The Case Hearing Started at nine forty-five in The Morning Before. DB (Division Bench) of Mr. Justice Anwar Ul Haq and Mr. Justice Shahbaz Ali Rizvi.The defense lawyers Mr. SK Chaudhry and Ch. Naeem Shakir were well prepared for hearing. Ashiq Masih was present in the court along with his counsel Ch. Naeem Shakir.

Beside the leading lawyers many other Christian lawyers including Tahir Khalil Sindhu Provincial Minister for Minorities Affairs and Human Rights activists from NGO, s were present in the court.

On the other side the Complainant lawyer Ghullam Mustafa along with about 12 other lawyers from Khatam-e-Nabowat (an Islamic Organization) was also present to cross the augments of defense lawyers. It is also worth mentioned that there was a groups of about 15-20 Mulla’s in the court in support of complainant.

The court called upon the case and asked defense lawyers to start arguments. The judge also gave choice to defense lawyers to speak before the court. Mr. Naeem Shakir decided to speak and record arguments on the behalf of the team. Mr. SK Chaudhry was in support to Naeem Shakir.

CLAAS Legal team including Tahir Bashir Advocate, Nasir Anjum Advocate and office staff Mr. Joseph Francis National Director CLAAS and Hunny Bashir was in the court during the hearing to report the case.

The defense counsel fully agitated that Asia Bibi is innocent and nothing has been uttered by her against the holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). The counsel also challenged credibility of prosecution witnesses where there are so many material contradictions in the statement of witnesses. The procedure of under section 156-A of Cr.PC regarding the blasphemy case was quoted and discussed which has also not been properly adopted by IO (Investigation officer). The counsel pointed out that there was a delay in the registration of Case FIR and also that the all statements of the witnesses were contradicting each other. There must be jealousy or grudge that Asia Bibi was falsely accused of blasphemy by her co-workers.

Mr. Justice Anwar-ul-Haq inquired the defense lawyer that why the witnesses statements were not crossed in the Session’s Court during trial.

The opponent lawyers quoted many other decisions and gave references of the Blasphemy cases where the death sentences were confirmed even by the High Court as in the offense 295-C there is only death sentence.

After four hours discussion and hearing the long arguments of both side lawyers the learned judge Mr. Justice Anwar-ul-Haq passed a short order and confirmed death sentence of accused Asia Bibi and complete judgment was reserved for the written decision of the court.

Asia Bibi has Right to file Appeal I. n The Supreme Court of Pakistan Within 30 days (One month) Through Her Counsel, for which we Ashiq Masih is Making Hope Have some efforts or plans.

We are really sad about today’s decision by the court as it is unexpected.

It is obvious that the court was under pressure by the extremists / Mulla’s present in the court. The Court was also under pressure from by The Lawyers Group. Khatam-E-Nabowat (an Islamic Organization) to support opponent Lawyer in The Court. It is noticed that the lawyers from Khatam-e-Nabowat use to come to the case hearings voluntarily, pressurize the courts as they do not want that courts should free blasphemy accused as they believe that blasphemy accuse must be punished.

The same unity we saw in the advocates of Rawalpindi Bar during the case trial of Zafar Bhatti in March 2013. There was a resolution passed in the Bar that no one from the lawyers can represent Zafar as defense counsel as he is accused of blasphemy and he. must be punished.

Due to this new trend in the courts among the religious Islamists and fanatic lawyers who do not want to pursue the cases as normal legal process but they become emotional in these matters and do not want to listen any one as they want to just punish with death. him or her as there is not any other choice with the blasphemy accused.

We are deeply saddened by the court decision today which was not passed on merit and it would not be wrong if we say that it was biased decision. CLAAS team is very much disheartens and we are worried about the other cases of blasphemy which are under proceeding in the different courts of Punjab.

In Solidarity,