Still no bail for Pakistan 'blasphemy' girl
By Khurram Shahzad, AFP
September 4, 2012, 12:09 am TWN
ISLAMABAD--A Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy in a case that has sparked international outcry must spend at least four more days in jail after a court adjourned a bail hearing on Monday.
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 Quran in breach of Pakistan's blasphemy laws.
Khan on Monday again put back the hearing until September 7 following a request from a lawyer representing Rimsha's original accuser, neighbor 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 neighboring Punjab province, the largest organization 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.
Rimsha is being held at the high-security Adiyala jail in Rawalpindi, Islamabad's twin city and by Friday will have spent 22 days in custody.
Campaigners stepped up calls for her release after police on Saturday arrested a cleric for allegedly tampering with the evidence against Rimsha.
His deputy and two assistants said Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti tried to bolster the case by planting pages from the Quran among burnt papers brought to him.
"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 told AFP.
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