Wed, Nov 21, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Pakistani high court throws out Christian girl blasphemy case

AFP, ISLAMABAD

A Pakistani court yesterday threw out all charges against a Christian girl accused of blasphemy in a case that drew international condemnation, lawyers said.

Rimsha Masih spent three weeks on remand in an adult jail after she was arrested on Aug. 16 for allegedly burning pages of the Koran in a case that prompted worldwide condemnation.

She was released on bail in September and police have since told the courts that she was not guilty and that a cleric who allegedly framed her should face trial instead.

“The court has quashed the case, declaring Rimsha innocent,” her lawyer Akmal Bhatti said.

Cleric Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, who first gave police the burned papers as evidence against her, was detained on Sept. 1 for desecrating the Koran and tampering with evidence.

An official medical report classified Rimsha as “uneducated” and aged 14, but with a mental age younger than her years. Others have said she is as young as 11 and has Down syndrome.

Paul Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan’s Cabinet, confirmed that the case had been thrown out by the high court.

“I welcome this order. Justice has been done and the law of the land has been upheld by the court,” Bhatti said. “It will send out a positive image of Pakistan in the international community that there is justice for all, and that society has risen up for justice and tolerance.”

Rimsha and her family, who have been in fear for their lives, were moved to an undisclosed location after her release on bail on Sept. 8.

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