To expose the false witnesses, highlighting the “castle of liars” that accuses Asia Bibi; to demonstrate the failures of the police and the conditions suffered by the judge who in the first instance issued the death sentence. Lawyers of Asia Bibi told Fides that this is the defensive line they are adopting in preparation for the appeal process, pending the first hearing in the High Court of Lahore.
The new investigation sponsored by the defence, lawyers told Fides, will demonstrate that the two female “eyewitnesses” for the indictment of Asia, were not at all present at the time of the controversy when the blasphemous insults would have been generated. Moreover, the trial papers, which Fides had the opportunity to consult, show an imaginary “public confession” that Asia Bibi would have released, upon which the verdict of the death sentence is based. This, too, notes the defence, “is a gross untruth” to be denounced in the appeal process. Investigations conducted by law enforcement officers in charge of the case were also “driven” and “in one direction”.
On behalf of the Masihi Foundation based in London and Lahore – the only NGO that is truly giving legal assistance and taking care of Asia Bibi’s family – lawyers are proceeding with charges of false witness against those who contributed to the conviction of Asia and asking for substantial damages.
Today, on these dynamics that characterize the accusers of blasphemy, Rana Sanaullah, Minister of law of the Province of Punjab, spoke publicly, stating that “in cases like this of false witnesses, once proof of bad faith has been established, the same penalty should be imposed as that suffered by the innocent victims of false charges.”
Meanwhile there is now another victim of the blasphemy law. It is young Muslim, Muhammad Amin, a Pakistani blogger in the city of Bahawalpur, province of Sindh. The young man had posted material considered blasphemous to the Prophet Muhammad on his blog and exchanged it with a friend, who was also charged. A police officer noticed it by chance, and thus the complaint and the arrest were triggered.
The incident confirms that the controversial “blasphemy law” – the subject of intense debate in Pakistani society – has spread its tentacles even to the web. Back in June, the Ministry of Information Technology had expanded the crime of blasphemy to the Internet, placing at scrutiny Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Youtube, but also Amazon, MSN, Hotmail, and Bing, causing a storm of reprimands and imposing very strong restrictions (see Fides 26/6/2010). A task force of inspectors is responsible for monitoring the web browsers available to Pakistanis, who may be accused and arrested for blasphemy.