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Pardon blocked in Pakistan blasphemy case

LAHORE, Pakistan, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A Pakistani judge Monday barred the president from pardoning a Christian woman sentenced to death for supposedly blaspheming Islam.

Khawaja Sharif, chief justice of the Lahore High Court, issued the interim order after a petitioner said Asia Bibi cannot be pardoned by President Asif Ali Zardari while her case is under appeal, the Pakistan Christian Post reported.

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GALLERY: Protests for the release of Asia Bibi

Bibi has denied ever insulting the Prophet Mohammed or attacking Islam, but she remains in prison after 15 months, and her family is in hiding.

Prosecutors say Bibi, an agricultural worker, got into an argument with Muslim co-workers when they refused to drink out of the same water bucket she had touched, CNN has reported.

A mob dragged Bibi to a police station, where she was charged with blasphemy and jailed.

"The president asked me to investigate her case and my preliminary findings show she is innocent and the charges against her are baseless," Minority Affairs Minister Shahbaz Bhatti told CNN.

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