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Muslim cleric acquitted for ‘fake allegations’ comment (0)

September 5, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A court in Islamabad, Pakistan, dismissed charges Aug. 17 against a Muslim cleric arrested on suspicion of framing a Christian girl for blasphemy.

Khalid Jadoon, leader of a mosque in the Meherabadi suburb of Islamabad, had been charged with desecrating the Koran and planting false evidence — pages ripped from the Koran and mixed into half-burnt pages of an Arabic-language, prayer-learning book — against 14-year-old Rimsha Masih. With a medical report showing her mental age as younger than her 14 years and the chief justice of the Islamabad High Court calling the charge against her “fake allegations,” Rimsha was acquitted Nov. 20, 2012; she has since fled to Canada to escape Islamist fury.

Jadoon was acquitted after seven witnesses against him retracted their statements.

Attorney Tahir Naveed, who had represented Rimsha, said Jadoon’s acquittal was expected due to poor police procedure and pressure from Islamists.

“The court freed Jadoon because the police failed to assure the witnesses that they would not be harmed,” Naveed said. “Moreover the trial court judges are also under immense pressure when hearing blasphemy cases.”

Attorneys said police had failed to properly collect evidence in the case and instead relied solely on witness statements. Witnesses had stated that Jadoon added pages of the Koran to a bag of ashes Rimsha was carrying.

Rimsha was initially charged as an adult, in which the charge of desecrating the Koran would have carried a life sentence. After her arrest in August 2012 and the case was transferred to juvenile court, Rimsha was kept in a high-security prison in Rawalpindi for nearly three weeks. She was released on bail after allegations surfaced that Jadoon had planted false evidence because he wanted to force Christian families out of the area.

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