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  • » 01/16/2013, 00.00

    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.

    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 Chaudhary.

    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 the offence.

    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)

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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.

    17/10/2012 PAKISTAN
    Rimsha Masih's trial adjourned to 14 November as anti-Christian violence continues
    The High Court in Islamabad delays the trial before deciding whether to drop the blasphemy charges or not. The girl's lawyers want the case thrown out of court. In Karachi, a mob of extremists attack St Francis Catholic Church. In Faisalabad, Christians praying for Malala Yousafzai come under attack.

    13/09/2012 PAKISTAN
    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.

    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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    VATICAN – CHINA
    Holy See has expressed “grave concern” over the fate of Mgr Shao Zhumin, held by police for more than a month

    Bernardo Cervellera

    The bishop of Wenzhou (Zhejiang), who belongs to the underground community, is said to be undergoing brainwashing to join the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association. Since China and the Holy See resumed talks three years ago, this is the first time that the Holy See Press Office speaks about a detained bishop. The faithful have felt too much pain over the Vatican’s extended silence. Germany’s ambassador in Beijing, Michael Clauss, has talked about the case. The Vatican’s press office calls on the faithful to pray for Bishop Shao Zhumin and “the path of the Catholic Church in China.”


    VATICAN
    Pope: The Churches of the East are alive, despite persecution and terrorism



    Receiving the participants at the "Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches" Assembly, Francis recommends the formation of the clergy. "Let us not forget that in the East even today, Christians - no matter whether Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants - spill their blood as a seal of their witness."


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