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Top Pakistani Court To Rule On Call For Appeal Against Christian Woman


People shout slogans as they protest the release of Asia Bibi, a Christian accused of blasphemy, whose death sentence was annulled by the Supreme Court in Lahore in November 2018.

Pakistan's Supreme Court is due to decide on January 29 whether to allow an appeal against its acquittal of a Christian woman at the center of a blasphemy row, a lawyer for the woman said.

Judges, including Pakistan's new chief justice, Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, are expected to reject the appeal.

If the court refuses to allow the petition, it will remove the last legal hurdle facing Asia Bibi, who remains in protective custody at a secret location.

Bibi was on death row for eight years for blasphemy, a hugely sensitive charge in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

The Supreme Court's decision in October to overturn her conviction ignited days of violent demonstrations, with Islamists calling for her killing as well mutiny within the powerful military and the assassination of the country's top judges.

The government has since launched a crackdown on the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan party -- the Islamist group driving the violent protests -- charging its leaders with sedition and terrorism.

But authorities also agreed to allow a final review of the Supreme Court's judgement.

Approximately 40 people are believed to be on death row or serving a life sentence for blasphemy, according to a 2018 report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom.

With reporting by AP and AFP
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