Pakistan's Supreme Court has delayed an appeal in the country's most notorious blasphemy case.
Dozens of police had been deployed outside the court in Islamabad on October 13, as the court readied to hear a final appeal in the case of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five who has been on death row since 2010.
But the court adjourned the hearing after one of the three-member bench said he had to recuse himself from the case on the grounds that he also heard the Salman Taseer case.
Taseer, a secular provincial governor who had campaigned against Pakistan's harsh blasphemy laws, was gunned down in 2011. His assassin, Mumtaz Qadri, was hanged earlier this year.
The court did not immediately set a new date for Bibi’s appeal.
Blasphemy is an explosive issue in Muslim-majority Pakistan. Anyone even accused of insulting Islam risks a violent and bloody death at the hands of vigilantes.
Rights groups say blasphemy laws are often abused to carry out personal vendettas, mainly against minority Christians.
Bibi was convicted and sentenced to hang after an argument with a Muslim woman over a bowl of water. Her supporters maintain her innocence and insist it was a personal dispute.
But successive appeals have been rejected, and if the Supreme Court upholds Bibi's conviction, her only recourse will be an appeal to the president for clemency.
She would become the first person in Pakistan to be executed for blasphemy.
Observers have warned of possible violence if the conviction is overturned.
Based on reporting by AFP and the Guardian