» 08/31/2012, 00.00
Islamabad: Rimsha Masih remanded. Paul Bhatti optimistic for release
This morning, the judge granted another 14 days to investigators to close the investigation. APMA representatives "usual procedure"; preparations ahead of tomorrow’s hearing. Bishop Rufin Anthony, worried about child’s health and safety.
- "I'm optimistic about the possibility that Rimsha Masih will be freed"
and if she is not released tomorrow at
the scheduled bail hearing, it is very likely that it "will be decided
early next week", says Paul Bhatti, Special Adviser to the Prime Minister for National
Harmony in comments to AsiaNews, on
the story of the little Pakistani girl arrested - and now on trial - for
blasphemy. The Catholic politician who holds a ministerial post explains that
"we immediately set to work for her release," but now we must "respect
the time of justice and let the procedures take their course." He added that
President Asif Ali Zardari "agrees" on the need to release the child
and is unsparing towards those associations and groups, who by exploiting Rimsha's
drama are looking for publicity and money: "I want to clarify that the family is in the custody of the Ministry for
Harmony and under my responsibility as head of the department. The father has
spoken to no-one outside of me and the institutions involved, so these petitions
that are circulating to collect signatures with a letter from Misrek Masih to the
head of state are absolutely false. "
The Islamabad court judges have extended the remand for Rimsha Masih, a
Christian girl suffering from mental problems accused of blasphemy for having
desecrated some pages containing verses of the Koran, for 14 days. This
morning, the child made a surprise appearance in court, at the end of 14 days
pre-trial detention pending the closing of investigations on the matter. The
judge justified the extension to allow police time to present the charge sheet
on the next hearing in two weeks. Tomorrow, however, the same court shall
decide her lawyer's request for her release. In fact the lawyers promised that
if, as they expect, bail is not granted, they will take the battle to the High
Masih is charged under the "black law" for having burned pages
printed with verses from the Koran. Under the law she could face up to life in
prison and there are fears of retaliation from elements close to the
fundamentalist Taliban, which have repeatedly carried out the extra-judicial murders
of persons indicted for blasphemy.
The judges have to decide whether to grant bail following a report by a court
appointed medical board determined that the girl is under 14 years of age and
shows a mental age lower than her chronological age (see AsiaNews 28/08 / 2012 Blasphemy,
Rimsha Masih, minor with mental problems. Bishop of Islamabad: a positive
outcome). However the nature of her mental affliction is not specified and the
medical report is disputed by Islamists, who want a regular trial and subsequent
punishment (see AsiaNews 30/08/2012, Islamabad,
Islamic leaders challenge medical report, call for punishment of Rimsha Masih).
Speaking to AsiaNews about the
judges' decision to extend her pre-trial detention, the bishop of
Islamabad-Rawalpindi Msgr. Rufin Anthony said that "it is sad to see the
little girl still behind bars." The prelate added that humanitarian
organizations are galvanising "a huge effort" for her cause, and
"we are with them. We are concerned about the health of Rimsha and her security."
For the representatives of the All
Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA), a movement founded by the Minister Shahbaz
Bhatti, killed by Islamic extremists, today's verdict is "normal
procedure" and they add: "The goal is the hearing tomorrow" . Even
Haroon Barkat Masih, president of Life
for All and Masihi Foundation,
and Mehboob Alam of the Ephlal Development Foundation strongly
criticize the judges' decision.
Paul Bhatti: " joy and satisfaction” for Rimsha Masih’s release (on bail)
The Catholic Pakistani politician praises work of police and government, which led to the release of the mentally disabled child arrested for blasphemy. He thanks APMA lawyers, the ulema and investigators because they have helped to maintain the peace and justice. She will be ruinited soon with her family.
07/09/2012 PAKISTAN - ITALY
"I am very happy for my daughter's liberation," Rimsha Masih's father tells AsiaNews
In an interview with the family of the girl accused of blasphemy, who was released today on bail, Misrek Masih said, "my world collapsed. I was scared." He thanks APMA activists for their work. Faith in Jesus helped him find hope. Paul Bhatti thanks his brother Shabbaz for showing "me the path to follow."
Rimsha Masih: My Christmas close to Asia Bibi and victims of blasphemy
"I'm happy," says the girl, "I would like as a gift for the holidays nice clothes and sneakers." The desire to return to school, but the problem of her safety remains. Her father thanks Jesus, Paul Bhatti and the government, but warns: "we feel in danger." Rimsha and family send greetings to Pope Benedict XVI and wish him and all Christians of the world, "Merry Christmas."
Rimsha Masih trial adjourned. Bishop of Islamabad calls for her acquittal
This morning the judges adjourned the session allowing more time for the investigators to conclude and submit their report. The defendant was not present in court for security reasons. Her fate is linked to the case against the imam who falsified evidence, the first hearing scheduled for September 16.
"We are optimistic," says Paul Bhatti as Rimsha Masih's bail hearing postponed to Friday
Today's hearing was cancelled because of a lawyers' strike in Punjab. Family problems with the presiding judge lead to two more days of postponement. Procedures are painful but we "are certain of her release." Bhatti praises the arrest of the imam who made the accusations against the girl. His "arrest will be [a] deterrent," Pakistan Human Rights Watch said.
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