Defense lawyer in blasphemy case flees Pakistan
The lawyer for a Christian woman acquitted of blasphemy charges after spending eight years on death row in Pakistan has fled the country, fearing for his safety, her brother said Saturday.
James Masih said Asia Bibi’s lawyer, Saiful Malook, left Pakistan, without providing further details. Malook’s phone was switched off.
Pakistan’s top court acquitted Bibi on Wednesday and ordered her release in a move that infuriated the country’s hardline Islamists, who have held nationwide protests demanding her execution.
The government reached a deal with the Islamists overnight in which it agreed to impose a travel ban on Bibi while the case is reviewed. In return, the Islamists halted their protests, which had blocked roads and brought life to a standstill in parts of the country.
Malook said this week that he would have to leave Pakistan because the followers of hard-line cleric Khadim Hussain Rizvi had threatened to kill him as well as the judges who acquitted Bibi.