File photo of Asia Bibi. Photograph:( Reuters )
Pakistan's Supreme Court on Wednesday acquitted Asia Bibi, a Christian woman who had been sentenced to death over allegations of blasphemy.
Asia Bibi was the first woman to be sentenced to death under Pakistan's draconian blasphemy laws. Her case had drawn global attention and condemnation.
A mother of four, Asia Bibi was convicted for allegedly making derogatory remarks about Islam after neighbours objected to her drinking water from their glass because she was not Muslim.
She had been living on death row since 2010.
A special three-person bench headed by Pakistan's top judge, Chief Justice Saqib Nasir, delivered the verdict today.
Insulting Islam's prophet is punishable by death under Pakistani law, and blasphemy accusations stir such emotions that they are almost impossible to defend against. Dozens have been killed following blasphemy claims, sometimes by mobs of men.
Rights groups say the blasphemy law is increasingly exploited by religious extremists as well as ordinary Pakistanis to settle personal scores. The law does not define blasphemy and evidence might not be reproduced in court for fear of committing a fresh offence.
Bibi had always denied blaspheming and her representatives had claimed she was involved in a dispute with her neighbours and that her accusers had contradicted themselves.
(With inputs from Reuters)