The Supreme Court of Pakistan has agreed to hear the appeal of a Christian woman who was sentenced to death in 2010 for blasphemy.
The mother-of-five identified as Asia Bibi was convicted for insulting Prophet Muhammad, a serious offence in the country where such allegations prompt mob violence, resulting in murders of most of the victims.
In Bibi's case, she had an altercation over drinking water with Muslim women in a farm in 2009, where they worked together. Post the row, she was charged with blasphemy and was handed the death sentence subsequently.
In October 2014, Bibi's execution was confirmed by the Lahore high court. However, Bibi maintained innocence all through the hearing and appealed against the punishment in November last year, her lawyers said.
On Wednesday, 22 July, a Supreme Court bench in Lahore agreed to consider the appeal. "The Supreme Court today [22 July] accepted the petition of my client to appeal against death sentence confirmation by the Lahore High Court," lawyer Saiful Malook told AFP.
Now the court will fix a date to review the substance of the appeal, Bibi's lawyer added.
On the other hand, the lawyer for the complainant against Bibi – who is also a local Muslim prayer leader – opposed the petition and said that the appeal "has been filed too late".
However, the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court accepted the appeal and said it would hear all related objections in subsequent proceedings.
Meanwhile, Malook has said that the blasphemy allegations against Bibi were "concocted by her enemies" and that they were baseless. He also said that the evidence in the case was manipulated.
Blasphemy cases are taken very seriously in Pakistan and often lead to convicts being sentenced to death, though no one has been officially executed in the country so far.
However, mob violence in such cases is extremely common and last year a couple were beaten and burnt alive by around 1,500 people.