Thursday 19 September 2019

Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy in Pakistan flown to Islamabad

Troops guarded the roads leading to the airport from which she departed.

Asia Bibi was acquited of blasphemy (AP Photo, File)
Asia Bibi was acquited of blasphemy (AP Photo, File)

By Munir Ahmed and Asim Tanveer, Associated Press

A Christian woman acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court eight years after being sentenced to death for blasphemy has been flown to Islamabad for security reasons.

Amid tight security, Asia Bibi left a detention facility in Punjab province for the flight to the capital, officials said.

Troops guarded the roads leading to the airport from which she departed.

Authorities last month said they arrested two prisoners for allegedly conspiring to strangle her and since then additional police and troops have been deployed to the facility in Punjab.

Officials said Ms Bibi will be safer at the new facility in Islamabad.

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Protesters during a rally to condemn the Supreme Court decision that acquitted Asia Bibi (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

Ms Bibi’s transfer comes a week after the high court in a landmark ruling acquitted her and ordered her released.

The move triggered nationwide protests and Ms Bibi’s release was put on hold on Friday after authorities held talks with radical Islamists who want her publicly hanged.

Authorities now say Ms Bibi may not leave the country because a petition for a review of the court’s ruling was filed by a radical Islamist lawyer requesting the acquittal be reversed.

Pakistani courts usually take years to decide such cases.

Ms Bibi was arrested in 2009 on charges of insulting Islam’s prophet and she was sentenced to death in 2010. Her family has always maintained her innocence and says she never insulted the prophet.

Blasphemy against Islam is punishable by death in Pakistan.

PA Media

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