Lawyers for Asia Bibi, a Christian mother sentenced to death under Pakistan's blasphemy law, are “confident” about proving Bibi's innocence and obtaining “full acquittal” for her in an upcoming trial.
Bibi's attorneys told Fides news service on Feb. 4 that in their preparations for the first hearing in the appeal process at the High Court of Lahore, they are assured of the court's “impartiality and professionalism.”
They are “confident” in being able to demonstrate “that the testimonies, upon which the prosecution's case against Asia is focused, will not stand up and are totally fabricated,” her lawyers said.
The appeal process, the attorneys noted, “will be completely different from the first in the magistrates' courts,” which they argued are “subjected to political influences” and “pressure from Islamic fundamentalists.” According to Bibi's defenders, these factors are not an issue “in the upper echelons of justice.”
Although a court date has not been set, the lawyers said it will most likely be scheduled soon.
They explained that the process will take approximately one year, but added that to ensure Bibi's safety, “it would be better not to remove her from the jail in Sheikhupura, where she is currently protected in an isolation cell.”
On Jan. 27, prison officials transferred Bibi to a secure cell to protect her from assassination attempts.
Her husband, Ashiq Masih, explained that because Asia was in constant danger of being attacked, prison and government officials decided to increase security for her protection.
Ashiq told Fides that his wife was transferred to her own personal cell and is now guarded 24/7 by two prison guards and two security cameras.
Her food is also thoroughly inspected to avoid the risk of poisoning.
Asia “is still sad and concerned about her children,” her husband said. “I told her she should trust in God” and assured her that “we are doing everything possible to ensure her release.”
“I also told her that all Christians and people of good will in Pakistan will be praying for her on the day for peace on Jan. 30,” he said.
The Church in Pakistan set aside Sunday, Jan. 30 as a day of fasting and prayer for peace in the country.
Pakistan's top Catholic leader, Archbishop Lawrence J. Saldanha of Lahore, offered his reflections while preparing for the Jan. 30 day of prayer and fasting in remarks to EWTN News. He said that it is time for the "silent majority" to speak out against the growing influence of radical Islam in the area.
“We face a dark future, if the radicals take over power and impose their brand of the Islamic way of life,” the archbishop said. “It is time for the 'silent majority' to wake up and take action. Otherwise, they will be pushed back into the dark shadows of medieval times.”