Date: September 28, 2012
By Xavier P. William, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Pakistan
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (BosNewsLife)-- Pakistani police say they have found no evidence that a mentally challenged Christian girl burned pages with verses of the Koran, deemed a holy book by Muslims, in a case that sparked international upheaval, BosNewsLife learned Wednesday, September 26.
An interim police report seen by BosNewsLife suggested that Rimsha Masih, 14, is innocent of the charges of "blasphemy" against Islam.
The report came after earlier this month an Islamabad court ordered her release on bail of one million Pakistani rupees ($10,600).
Tables already turned when an imam who accused the girl of burning pages of Noorani Qaida, a religious textbook used to teach the Koran to children, was himself detained on charges of blasphemy, which can carry the death sentence.
Imam Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chisht allegedly stashed the Koranic papers in the girl‘s bag to ensure her conviction and push out Christians from the area. Witnesses have already testified in the court against the cleric.
Pakistan had come under international pressure to release the girl.
BosNewsLife obtained a copy of a medical report, saying she is mentally impaired, suggesting she would not have been able to burn or even read the Koran.
The police report, which was handed over by investigative officer Munir Jaffari to judge Ghulam Abbas Shah on Saturday, September 22, claims two witnesses have confirmed "that it was not Rimsha who went to throw the garbage" but her six-year-old sister Savera.
The torched pages found in the bag were sent for forensic examination in Lahore with a final forensic report expected within weeks, investigators said.
However her accuser has rejected the police report saying the government changed the course of the case to prove Rimsha is innocent.
Rimsha was detained August 16 under Pakistan’s blasphemy legislation.
The case gained international attention, in part because of the girl’s age and questions about her mental capacity.
Amid international pressure she was eventually released from a prison for adults and airlifted from Adiyala jail to an unspecified location within Islamabad.
Christians have warned however that Rimsha and her family will be forced to live in hiding, fearing for their lives.
In Pakistan even being accused of blasphemy is equivalent to being sentenced, according to rights activists and local Christians.