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Innocent Pakistani Woman Released From Jail After 14 Years


ISLAMABAD -- The High Court in the Pakistani city of Lahore has ordered the release of a woman held without trial for 14 years on blasphemy charges, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

Zaibun Nisa, 60, had been kept in a prison mental asylum since 1996 after being accused of desecrating the Koran.

Nisa's lawyer, Aftab Ahmad Bajwa, told Radio Mashaal on July 22 that his client was completely innocent of the charges against her. He said it was still unclear exactly why Nisa was jailed.

Bajwa said Nisa was arrested in Rawat village, 25 kilometers south of Islamabad. She was detained after a local resident filed a complaint with police alleging that Nisa had desecrated the Koran.

Pakistan's blasphemy laws carry the death sentence, although no one has ever been executed for the crime.

Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khawaja Mohammad Sharif expressed disappointment that an innocent woman had been kept in prison so long without a trial.

Three days ago, two Christian brothers accused of blasphemy were murdered in Faisalabad, a major city southwest of Lahore.

Human rights activists have campaigned for years for Pakistan's blasphemy law to be repealed. They say it is often exploited by Islamists or by people holding personal grudges.
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