Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Pakistan's Supreme Court dismissed the appeal
filed against Rimsha Masih, the 14-year-old Christian girl accused of
committing blasphemy. The verdict was announced yesterday during the first
hearing, further evidence that the judges are convinced of the girl's innocence.
The mentally disabled girl was arrested in August 2012 on the basis of the 'black
law'. She was later released on bail and eventually acquitted during her trial.
Reached by phone, Federal Minister Paul Bhatti, currently on a speaking
tour of the United States, told AsiaNews that he was satisfied by the decision, which confirms that "Rimsha
Masih is innocent".
A special advisor to the prime minister on national harmony, Bhatti said
that Pakistani Christians are also very satisfied by the decision because "justice
was done," showing once more in a courtroom that "Rimsha Masih is innocent".
Although this period was "stressful and tense, in the end justice
prevailed and we got a positive verdict," the Catholic minister said. Rather than
spirit away the girl and her family, "we went through the trial and are now
satisfied," he added.
The case reached the Supreme Court when Malik Ummad, Rimsha's accuser, sought
to re-open Rimsha's case through his lawyers who filed an appeal against the
lower court's acquittal.
He had claimed of seeing the girl burn pages of the Qur'an and warned
cleric Khalid Jadoon Chishti who filed a report with police. Prosecutors had
tried to reopen the case to get the Christian girl convicted but failed. Now her
accuser is on trial for blasphemy and slander.
The bench that made the final decision included the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court, the Honourable Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhary, and Justices Sh.
Azmat Saeed and Gulzar Ahmad.
It took them a single hearing to dismiss the case against the girl, who
was represented by Abdul Hameed Rana, assisted by Akmal Bhatti and Tahir Naveed
The verdict "sends out a positive image of Pakistan in the international
community that there is justice for all," said Tahir Naveed Chaudhry.
After her arrest in August on blasphemy charges for allegedly desecrating
the Qur'an, a judge in Islamabad ordered
the girl released on bail on 7 September. However, the accusations were
however false, created by cleric Khalid Jadoon Chishti who sought to stir
hatred towards Christians in order to seize their assets.
Two months later, on 20 November, the Islamabad
High Court acquitted the 14-year-old Catholic girl for not committing
Speaking in an exclusive
interview with AsiaNews on Christmas
Eve, the girl, who is in a safe place, launched an appeal with the help
of Catholic activists from the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA)
on behalf of Asia Bibi and other Christian victims of blasphemy. (DS)