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Bail granted to Pakistani cleric accused of framing girl in Quran case
ICC Note:
The case of Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old Christian girl arrested in Pakistan for allegedly burning the Quran in August, has potentially taken a negative turn. Rimsha had been released on bail on September 7 days after four witnesses testified that Khalid Jadoon Chisti, a local imam, had planted the burned pages in Rimsha’s possession. Three of the four witnesses, however, recanted their statements this month at Chisti’s bail hearing. Chisti’s lawyer told CNN that that the imam was granted bail on Thursday. Now that Chisti will soon be released, it is unknown what punishment will be given to Rimsha, who is scheduled to appear in a juvenile court on October 17.
By the CNN Wire Staff
10/11/2012 Pakistan (CNN)- The Muslim cleric accused of framing a young Christian girl in a blasphemy case in Pakistan was granted bail Thursday, his lawyer told CNN.
Bail was granted after several witnesses who initially accused the cleric of tampering with evidence to frame the girl recanted their statements.
The cleric, Khalid Jadoon Chishti, is expected to be released after he posts the $2,000 bail, attorney Wajid Ali Gilani said.
Rimsha Masih, the Christian teenager charged with blasphemy for allegedly burning pages of Islam’s holy book, has denied the charges.
Four witnesses initially told police they saw Chishti tear pages out of a Quran and put them with police evidence that led to the charges against Rimsha.
But three of them recanted those statements this month at a bail hearing for the cleric. A fourth witness stood by his initial statement.
The witnesses are a critical part of the police investigation that determined that the imam framed the teen. Based on that investigation and a lack of witnesses, Rimsha’s lawyers are now appealing to have the blasphemy charges dismissed.
The teen’s case has sparked international outcry against the Pakistani government, with some saying that blasphemy laws are used to settle scores and persecute religious minorities.
Police arrested Rimsha in August after her neighbor accused her of burning Quran pages for use as cooking fuel, investigators said.
According to police, Chishti wasn’t certain that simply burning pages with texts from the Quran would be enough to convict Rimsha on blasphemy charges. So he added two pages from the actual holy book to the bag to bolster the case, they said.

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