Amid tight security the Supreme Court of Pakistan today, 29 January, dismissed a petition seeking to review its decision to acquit Aasia Bibi, the Christian woman who spent almost eight years on death row falsely accused of “blasphemy”.
The judges stated that the petitioner could not find any flaw in the court’s original verdict of 31 October 2018 acquitting Aasia. The Supreme Court had originally dismissed the accusations against her as a “concoction” and described her accusers as untrustworthy.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, chair of the three-member bench, said, “We will not hear the case again. We are hearing [the petition] for the satisfaction of those who gave fatwas [on the verdict] without reading it.”
The lawyer for the petitioner, a cleric of a mosque, had demanded that the bench be extended for the review petition, saying it should include Islamic scholars. But the Chief Justice refused this request saying, “How is this a matter of religion? Has the verdict not been given on merit?”
Authorities in Islamabad made stringent security arrangements for today’s hearing, deploying paramilitary troops in sensitive areas of the capital. After Aasia Bibi’s acquittal last year, widespread street protests erupted.
The present whereabouts of Aasia Bibi are unknown and remain confidential for security reasons. After her release from Multan’s woman women’s prison on 7 November 2018, she was flown to Islamabad and taken to an undisclosed place amid concerns for her safety and that of her family.