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Monday 19 August 2013

Islamist Cleric who falsely accused Rimsha Masih has been acquitted.

Islamabad: A Pakistani court on Saturday acquitted prime suspect Khalid Chishti of all charges as six out of eight eyewitnesses retracted from their statements in a blasphemy case accusing a mentally-challenged Christian teenage girl.

The girl, Rimsha Masih, was arrested in August 2012 for allegedly burning pages containing Quranic verses but the case against her, which drew widespread international condemnation, was quashed, after evidenced emerged that a Muslim cleric (Imam) had added torn pages from the Quran to some ashes to make the case against Rimsha stronger.  The imam allegedly issued an appeal on his mosque loudspeaker,  for devout Muslim's to burn alive the Christians of the Mehrabadi village, causing dozens of Christian families to flee their town to save their lives.
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Advocate Sardar Mushtaq Gill,Director LEAD said;

"We are disappointed with the judgement from the court in the case of Hafiz Khalid Chishti who tampered with evidence in order to implicate Rimsha Masih. We demand the Government of Pakistan to repeal all discriminatory laws including the blasphemy laws, to ensure religious freedom and expression of thought in Pakistan."

The teenager has now settled in Canada with her family - a process which was helped by a report produced by the BPCA, that enable 
Politicians there to create special status for Pakistani Christian Asylum seekers.

Wilson Chowdhry Chairmna of the BPCA said;

"Today's decision illustrates the impunity that exists for those that use Pakistan's discriminatory laws for personal gain, or simply to persecute minorities.  Witnesses originally accused Imam Khalid Chisti of undertaking the heinous evidence tampering, simply due to his hatred towards Christians and a desire to see them eradicated from the local vicinity.  It is alleged that under duress they have been thwarted from following through on their original wish to see justice served." 

He added;

"If Pakistan wishes to rid itself of the perceived corruption and injustice that has created global notoriety for the state, the Government will need to improve the rule of law and protect better those who stand for justice."

Pakistan's Tribune Newspaper highlighted how Hafiz Ashrafi the Chairman of "Pakistan Ulema Council" has expressed disappointment at the collapse of the case. The publication also alleged police coercment as a reason for the withdrawal of witness statements.  Read more here:

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