Islamabad A Pakistani court is set to announce its judgement on a bail petition filed by a young Christian girl, who was arrested after being falsely
implicated in a blasphemy case by the cleric of a mosque in Islamabad.
The court of the Additional District and Sessions Judge, where a two-and-a-half-hour-long hearing on Friday morning was marked by noisy arguments between the lawyers of both sides, is expected to announce its verdict on the bail petition of Rimsha Masih later in the day.
A large number of activists of civil society groups gathered at the court for the hearing. The lawyer of the man who accused Rimsha of blasphemy said her counsel had not submitted key documents in court.
On the other hand, the police officer investigating the case told the judge that several witnesses had testified before a magistrate that she was falsely implicated due to evidence planted by Khalid Chishti, the imam of the mosque in
the low-income Mehria Jaffar neighbourhood of Islamabad.
Chishti was arrested last week after a man testified that he had seen the cleric stuffing pages of the Quran in the bag belonging to Rimsha. The bag originally contained only some other papers and ashes.
Rimsha was arrested on August 16 after an angry mob surrounded a police station and demanded that action be taken against her.
She is currently being held at the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi and her judicial remand was extended last week.
An official medical board that examined Rimsha concluded that she was about 14 years old and that her mental development did not correspond to her age.
Rimsha's case has prompted concern from Western governments and the Vatican.
It has also focused attention once again on Pakistan's controversial blasphemy law, under which a person can be punished with life in prison or death.
Rights groups have warned that the law is often used to settle personal scores or persecute minorities like Christians.