File chargesheet in blasphemy case: Pak court
Islamabad: A Pakistani court Monday gave police time till September 21 to file chargesheet in the case against the young mentally challenged Christian girl Rimsha Masih, who was arrested after being accused of blasphemy.
During today`s proceedings in the additional district and sessions court in Islamabad, the police sought more time to present the chargesheet, which was earlier due to be submitted today.
A police officer told the judge that the case was now being handled by a special team led by a SSP in line with the court`s directives.
Rimsha was granted bail on September 7 after three witnesses testified before a magistrate that the imam of the mosque in the girl`s neighbourhood had planted the evidence that was used to implicate her.
Two days later, Rimsha and her family were moved to an undisclosed location for security reasons.
The imam was subsequently arrested and charged under the controversial blasphemy law.
The lawyer of the man who accused Rimsha asked the court to cancel Rimsha`s bail and not to grant more time to the police to submit the chargesheet.
He further claimed that police were threatening Malik Ammad, Rimsha`s accuser, and other witnesses.
The judge directed police not to threaten the accuser and other witnesses.
Rimsha`s case has again focussed attention on Pakistan`s harsh blasphemy law, which rights groups have said is used to settle personal scores and to persecute members of minority communities like Christians.
The case also prompted concern from Western governments and the Vatican.
An official medical board that examined Rimsha concluded she was a minor and that her mental development did not correspond with her age.
Xavier William, president of the NGO Life for All, said Rimsha had been traumatised and fears for her life.
"The family is forced to live in hiding and being accused of blasphemy is such a contentious issue that despite being released on bail their ordeal is far from over.
"Even if she is cleared, the youngster will remain vulnerable," he told a news agency.
"The case sparked widespread condemnation of the blasphemy law and calls for them to be reformed. But it is highly unlikely that there will be any change, leaving the religious minorities open to malicious and devastating accusations," William said.
Life for All will present a petition with a million signatures to the authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that the blasphemy law is not misused, he added.
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