Tuesday, 20 November 2012
A Pakistan court has thrown out all charges against a Christian girl accused of blasphemy.
Rimsha Masih, 14, spent three weeks on remand in an adult prison after she was arrested in August for allegedly burning pages from the Koran. She was released on bail in September and police have since told the courts she was not guilty and that a cleric who allegedly framed her should face trial instead.
The case against the Muslim cleric, accused of framing her, will proceed, says the BBC's Orla Guerin in Islamabad. He will be tried for making a false accusation.
Paul Bhatti, the only Christian member of Pakistan's federal cabinet, confirmed the case had been thrown out by the high court in the capital Islamabad.
Rimsha's lawyer Akmal Bhatti said: "The court has quashed the case, declaring Rimsha innocent." An official medical report classified Rimsha as "uneducated" with a mental age younger than her years. Some reports have also claimed that she has Down's Syndrome.
There has been no word yet from Rimsha and her family, who remain in hiding, at an undisclosed location, A leading human rights campaigner has welcomed the decision to drop the case against her, but says her life could still be at risk from extremists.
Christian campaigners say more than 30 people - suspected of blasphemy (and merely believing in the Trinity, ie Father, Son and Holy Ghost is shirk, attributing a partner to Allah, the ultimate blasphemy to a Muslim) - have been killed by mobs or vigilantes over the past 20 years.
Posted on 11/20/2012 2:57 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax
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