Pakistani court grants bail to girl in blasphemy trial | News | DW | 07.09.2012
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Pakistani court grants bail to girl in blasphemy trial

A young girl accused of burning pages of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, has been offered bail at an appeal hearing in Islamabad. The court is also investigating whether the teenage Christian could have been framed.

Judge Muhammad Azam Kahn announced the decision in an Islamabad court on Friday.

"I accept her bail application," the judge said. "The bail application has been accepted against two sureties of 500,000 rupees (4179 euros, $5,284) each."

Rimsha Masih's lawyer, Tahir Naveed Chaudry, told reporters that his client would spend at least one more night in custody.

"We are processing the bail bond but court timings have ended so my client could not be released today [Friday]," Chaudry said. "She is likely to be freed on Saturday."

Rimsha Masih's small house, with a locked front door, in a village close to Islamabad

Masih's house has been locked over fears of reprisals

There are fears for her safety if she returns to her village, as she is accused of burning pages of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.


The development comes almost a week after police arrested a Muslim cleric for allegedly planting evidence that led to the girl's arrest. Imam Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, who was turned in by his assistants, is accused of adding pages from the Koran to pages that the young girl had allegedly burned in an effort to strengthen the case against her.

The imam claimed that he had moved to protect the girl by turning her in to the authorities.

"People were demanding to burn their house," he said. "But I went to police and called them to avoid a major incident."

Christi said his colleagues at the mosque had turned him in based on "fabricated" information.

Human Rights Watch in Pakistan welcomed the care taken in the case with these counter-accusations, saying the courts were being unusually thorough.

"They are actually taking a look at incitement to violence and false allegations. It is a welcome and positive development," HRW Pakistan director Ali Dayan Hasan said earlier in the week.

The case has brought further attention to Pakistan's controversial laws on blasphemy. If convicted of committing a perceived insult against Islam, a person can be sentenced to death.

Christians make up less than two percent of Paksitan's primarily Muslim population of around 180 million people. Masih is believed to be 14 years old. A panel of doctors has told the court she suffers from learning difficulties.

msh/pfd (AFP, dpa, Reuters)