By BosNewsLife Asia Service
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)– Pakistan’s Supreme Court has dismissed a final attempt to reopen a blasphemy case against a mentally challenged Christian teenager, Christian rights activists confirmed Wednesday, January 16.
The ruling brought to a close legal proceedings against 14-year-old Rimsha Masih, who was detained last year after allegedly burning pages of Noorani Qaida, a religious textbook used to teach the Koran to children. She was already released on bail in September after spending over three weeks in jail with adult inmates.
Tables turned when her accuser, an imam, was himself detained on charges of blasphemy, which can carry the death sentence.
Prosecutors claimed Imam Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chisht allegedly stashed Koranic papers in the girl‘s bag to ensure her conviction and push out Christians from an impoverished suburb of capital Islamabad.
The iman has denied wrongdoing and his supporters claimed witnesses were under police duress to testify against him amid international outrage over the case
Yet, on November 20 last year, the Islamabad High Court ordered that the case against Rimsha be thrown out, but her accuser’s lawyers filed an appeal against that ruling, explained advocacy group Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), which closely monitoring the case.
“The case was heard yesterday by a bench of three judges, including the Chief Justice himself,” CSW said in a statement to BosNewsLife.
The Supreme Court is Pakistan’s top court, and trial observers said the prosecution has now exhausted its appeal options.
CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said his group welcomes “this swift decision by the Supreme Court, which is a significant one in the context of Pakistan’s blasphemy law debate.”
However, he warned that “attention is still needed on the safety of Rimsha’s family” who are in hiding amid death threats.
CSW is also concerned about other minority Christians, he said. Thomas called for “further dialogue on the blasphemy laws beyond the forthcoming national election period and related political tensions.”
Several Christians are still being detained under the controversial legislation, including a Christian father of four who was sentenced to death in Pakistan for “blasphemy against Islam” and has since been rushed to hospital after suffering a heart attack.
The recent health scare raised doubts whether Younis Masih would be able to attend the January 17 appeal hearing against the planned execution, his supporters friends told BosNewsLife.
Masih has been languishing over seven years in a Pakistani jail since his detention under Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy legislation.
Amond others held is Asia Bibi, a mother of five, who was detained for blasphemy in 2009, and has been in prison ever since.
Pakistan, a heavily Islamic nation, is under pressure to change the current blasphemy legislation that critics say has been misused to persecute religious minorities or to settle personal grievances.
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