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  • » 09/13/2012, 00.00

    PAKISTAN

    Rimsha Masih trial adjourned. Bishop of Islamabad calls for her acquittal

    Jibran Khan

    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.

    Islamabad (AsiaNews) - An Islamabad court has adjourned the trial of Rimsha Masih, a Christian child with mental illness, arrested and imprisoned on charges of blasphemy, who was not present in court for security reasons. This morning, at a brief hearing, the judges emphasized that investigators have yet to complete the investigation on the matter and close the file, which is why they opted for a referral, even if the date has not yet been decided. The bishop of the capital Msgr. Rufin Anthony, speaking to AsiaNews, has launched a new appeal for the release of the girl: "We ask the judges - says the prelate - for her immediate acquittal" because she has not committed the crime. In fact, experts say the fate of the girl and the routines of the case will depend very much on the parallel case against Maulana Khalid Chishti Jadoon, the Islamic religious leader who mounted false accusations to incriminate the young Christian and hunt the entire community from the area for seize their properties.

    The first hearing of the trial against the Muslim cleric is scheduled for September 16 and expectations are already mounting as increasingly it is being seen as linked to the public debate for the "revision" of the blasphemy laws, which are too often exploited - as in this case - to target innocent people. A story that could become a "milestone" in the history of Pakistan and give rise to a change that puts an end to the "abuses" arising from the "black law". A battle, we recall, for which Shahbaz Bhatti, Catholic Minister for Minorities massacred by fundamentalists March 2, 2011, and before him, the governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, who was killed by his bodyguard sacrificed their lives.

    Thus the judges have preferred to adjourn Rimsha Masih's trial, who has been hidden in a secure location to avoid possible reprisals by the fundamentalist fringe. The court has granted another day to the police to complete the investigation, and are still waiting the girls lawyers  plea, who have not yet asked for an acquittal. A decision that has raised some surprise, but it is - most likely - due to the desire to understand what direction will the prosecution of Khalid Chishti Jadoon will take.

    The Bishop of Rawalpindi / Islamabad Rufin Anthony told AsiaNews, "Pakistan has undergone a process of Islamization, particularly in terms of the misuse and abuse of the blasphemy laws contained in section 295-C, an offense that is punishable by death. The use of this bylaw has creating an environment where some religious fanatics believe that they are entitled to take law into their own hands. There have been many instances where the local administration and police have either collude with perpetrators or have stood by and do nothing to assist the accused, themselves fearing the crowd. The use of the blasphemy law has become a quick way of resolving disputes arising from business rivalry, honor disputes, disputes over money and property. Those accused of blasphemy face the very real threat of assassination whilst on trial or on bail. There have been many examples of extrajudicial killings, threats to life, revenge being taken by communities in response to the accusations."

    On 7 September, the judges decreed her release on bail, greeted with satisfaction by Christian leaders and her family in an interview with our newsagency (see AsiaNews 07/09/2012 "I am very happy for my daughter's liberation," Rimsha Masih's father tells AsiaNews, and Paul Bhatti: " joy and satisfaction" for Rimsha Masih's release (on bail)). Her freedom cost one million rupees (about 9 thousand euro) and any possible refund depends on the defendant's presence in court at the hearing in which the closure of investigations will be decreed.

     

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    See also

    30/08/2012 PAKISTAN
    For Islamists, no "sympathy" for Rimsha Masih who must be judged "according to the law"
    A Muslim legal expert says it is wrong to "take sides" for the girl who must be punished if she is guilty. "Let us pray for Rimsha and her family," says Islamabad bishop. The government should use the case as "an example" and take the "right measures" to stop abuses, he adds. Fears remain for the fate of 600 Christian families that fled their homes.

    16/01/2013 PAKISTAN
    Supreme Court upholds Rinsha Masih's innocence, Paul Batthi satisfied
    Pakistan's highest court rejects prosecutors' appeal. For the Christian girl's lawyers, the verdict "sends out a positive image of Pakistan". Paul Bhatti tells AsiaNews that they did not flee but placed their faith in the justice system.

    07/09/2012 PAKISTAN
    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.

    01/09/2012 PAKISTAN
    Pakistan, Rimsha Masih bail hearing adjourned
    The Islamabad court will decide on bail for disabled Christian girl accused of blasphemy on September 3. The National Commission for Justice and Peace reopens the debate on education in Pakistan and denounces: in Punjab and Sindh 2012-2013, textbooks filled with hatred and false history against Hindus, Christians and people of India.

    20/11/2012 PAKISTAN
    Pakistani Christians happy about Rimsha Masih verdict, Islamists talk about "manipulation"
    For the bishop of Islamabad, the ruling is a "great development." Now a law to end blasphemy abuses is needed. A Lahore priest sees the decision as a legal milestone. Islamists however are angered, blaming the government for putting pressures on the court.



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