A Pakistani court has upheld the death sentence of a Christian woman whose 2010 conviction for blasphemy led to the assassination of two politicians who supported her, a defense lawyer says. Asia Bibi, a 50-year-old mother of five, had appealed before the Lahore High Court against the ruling, in which she was found guilty of insulting Muhammad, says her lawyer, who plans to take the case to the country's Supreme Court. The case drew global criticism in 2011 when Pakistan's minister for religious minorities and the governor of Punjab province were assassinated for supporting her and opposing blasphemy laws.
The lawyer says Bibi was arrested after Muslim women told a village cleric that she had made "derogatory remarks" about the prophet during a heated exchange that began when the women objected to Bibi using their drinking glass because she was not a Muslim. "We have a strong case, and we will try our best to save her life," he says. An Amnesty International spokesman calls the ruling "a grave injustice" and says there were serious concerns about the fairness of the trial. "Her mental and physical health has reportedly deteriorated badly during the years she has spent in almost total isolation on death row," he says. "She should be released immediately and the conviction should be quashed." (Read more Asia Bibi stories.)