[QODLink]
Central & South Asia

Pakistan acquits girl of blasphemy charges

Charges against Rimsha Masih of burning Quran have been thrown out after police accused cleric of framing her.
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2012 07:59
Police say Hafiz Chishti, right, the cleric who accused Masih of burning the Quran, should be sent to court [EPA]

Pakistan court has thrown out charges against a young 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 August 16 for allegedly burning pages from the Quran.

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 told the AFP news agency.

Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, a cleric who first gave police the burned papers as evidence against her, was detained on September 1 for desecrating the Quran 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-years-old and suffers from Down's Syndrome.

Paul Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan's federal cabinet, confirmed that the case had been thrown out by the high court in the capital Islamabad.

"I welcome this order. Justice has been done and the law of the land has been upheld by the court," he told AFP.
"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," he added.

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

270

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
Iran's government has shifted its take on 'brain drain' but is the change enough to reverse the flow?
Deadly attacks on anti-mining activists in the Philippines part of a global trend, according to new report.
Activists say 'Honor Diaries' documentary exploits gender-based violence to further an anti-Islamic agenda.
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
join our mailing list