Asia Bibi, the Christian mother of five who has been on death row for blasphemy since 2010, has been acquitted by Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
Although the decision was made back on October 8, it was held hidden from the public until its announcement on Wednesday.
“The appeal is allowed. She has been acquitted. The judgement of high court as well as trial court is reversed. Her conviction is set aside,” Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar declared in the 56-page judgment.
“Her conviction is set aside and she is to be relieved forthwith if not required in other charges,” he added.
The ruling related to a 2015 appeal against the death sentence for Bibi, who in 2009 was accused by a group of Muslim coworkers of having insulted the Islamic prophet Muhammad.
The court document explained that it is the onus of the prosecution to prove her guilt beyond reasonable doubt, something which the judges found it had failed to accomplish.
“Keeping in mind the evidence produced by the prosecution against the alleged blasphemy committed by the appellant, the prosecution has categorically failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt,” the justices found.
Bibi, who has been the subject of campaigns by Islamic radicals in Pakistan calling for her death, could hardly believe that after nearly a decade in prison, she is to be set free.
“I can’t believe what I am hearing, will I go out now? Will they let me out, really?” Bibi told AFP by phone from prison. “I just don’t know what to say, I am very happy, I can’t believe it.”
Her lawyer, Saiful Mulook, spoke of the magnitude of the decision:
“The verdict has shown that the poor, the minorities and the lowest segments of society can get justice in this country despite its shortcomings. This is the biggest and happiest day of my life.”
Bibi’s husband, Ashiq Masih, pointed out that the family knew all these years that the wife and mother was innocent.
“I am very happy. My children are very happy. We are grateful to God. We are grateful to the judges for giving us justice. We knew that she is innocent,” Masih declared.
“My wife spent so many years in jail and we hope that we will soon be together in a peaceful place.”
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Source: Christian Post