"Christian woman free to leave after petition against her acquittal on blasphemy charges dismissed by Supreme Court"
ISLAMABAD, January 29 -- Pakistan's Supreme Court has upheld the acquittal of a Christian woman charged with blasphemy, standing by its earlier verdict that sparked days of protests, death threats and nationwide chaos.
The country's top court in the capital, Islamabad, on Tuesday, dismissed the review petition against Aasia Bibi, who spent eight years on death row for blasphemy before being released last October. The three-judge panel said arguments of the lawyer acting on behalf of the petitioners did not satisfy the judges. "On merit, this petition is dismissed," Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa said in court. She is now free to leave the country. Unconfirmed Pakistani media reports said her two daughters have already gone to Canada, where they've been granted asylum. Bibi is currently under guard at a secret location in Pakistan for her own safety. "I am really gratefully to everybody. Now after nine years it is confirmed that I am free and I will be going to hug my daughters," a friend quoted Bibi as saying to The Associated Press, on condition of anonymity fearing for his own safety. Her lawyer, Saiful Malook, who returned to Islamabad after fleeing the country amid death threats, called the decision a victory for Pakistan's constitution and rule of law.