Still no bail for Pakistan 'blasphemy' girl
ISLAMABAD - Agence France-Presse
People stand inside the Mosque Jamia Ameenia whose prayer leader Haifz Muhammad Khalid Jadon Chishti who had accused a teenage Christian girl of blasphemy for burning the Muslims holy Koran, was arrested, in Islamabad, Pakistan, 02 September 2012. EPA PhotoA Pakistani court on Monday adjourned by another four days possible bail for a Christian girl accused of blasphemy in a case that has sparked international criticism.
Judge Muhammad Azam Khan has repeatedly delayed bail proceedings for Rimsha Masih, who was arrested last month accused of burning papers containing verses from the Koran in breach of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, punishable by death.
Khan on Monday again put back the hearing until September 7 following a request from a lawyer representing Rimsha's original accuser, neighbour Hammad Malik.
Rao Abdur Raheem, the lawyer, said the case should not be heard to show solidarity with a strike being observed by the bar association in neighbouring Punjab province, the largest organisation of its type in the country.
Rimsha's lawyer said the case against his client had collapsed.
"The prosecution has completely failed. There is nothing left in this case now," Raja Ikram, a lawyer representing Rimsha, told reporters after the adjournment.
On Saturday, police arrested the cleric who originally submitted the burnt papers after his deputy and two assistants said he tampered with the evidence.
They said Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti planted pages from the Koran among the burnt pages brought to him by a witness to beef up the case against her.
Campaigners have demanded Rimsha's immediate release.
"Rimsha must be released now. The evidence has been proved false so there is no reason to keep her behind bars any more," Shamaun Alfred Gill, a spokesman for the All Pakistan Minorities Alliance (APMA) told AFP.
According to a medical report, Rimsha is around 14 years old with a mental age below her true age, but some reports say she suffers from Down's Syndrome.
Western governments have expressed concern over her arrest.
Rights groups have called on Pakistan to reform its blasphemy legislation, which they say is often abused to settle personal vendettas.
In 2011, leading politician Salman Taseer and a Christian cabinet minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, were assassinated after calling for the law to be reformed.