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Today despite great expectation Asia Bibi's blasphemy trial has been postponed once again. Mushtaq Gill an advocate present at the court sent a text this morning confirming that the Division Bench had been dissolved. This means that a new date will have to be set for the hearing, ensuring a longer period of incarceration for the poor, quietly suffering mother of five. This is now the third time Asia has had her trial deferred.
Wilson Chowdhry Chairman of the BPCA said;
"I feel for Asia Bibi, her confidence of ever seeing justice must be waning. Expectations of justice and being reunited with her family grow as the trial dates near, each deferment simply shatters the fragile hope she maintains. If the courts are incapable of justice then more focus should be spent on challenging Pakistan's president to enact his powers of official pardon."
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Asia Bibi, or Aasiya Noreen, was born in 1971. She is the first woman in Pakistan's modern history to be sentenced to death by hanging. She was convicted of blasphemy by a Pakistani court, receiving a sentence of death by hanging. In June 2009, Noreen was involved in an argument with a group of Muslim women with whom she had been harvesting berries after the other women became angry at her for drinking the same water as them. She was subsequently accused of insulting the Islamic Prophet Muhammad, a charge she denies, and was arrested and imprisoned. In November 2010, a Sheikhupura judge sentenced her to death.
The verdict, which was reached in a district court and would need to be upheld by a superior court, has received worldwide attention. Various petitions, including one that received 400,000 signatures, were organized to protest Noreen's imprisonment. She received less sympathy from her neighbors and Islamic religious leaders in the country, some of whom adamantly called for her to be executed. Christian minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti and Pakistani government politician Salmaan Taseer were both killed for advocating on her behalf and opposing the blasphemy laws.Noreen's family has gone into hiding due to receiving death threats and has voiced concerns that she could be killed by extremists if released from prison.