Saturday, September 08, 2012

Pakistan blasphemy girl in dramatic prison release by helicopter



 RAWALPINDI: A Pakistani court granted bail and released a minor Christian girl Rimsha Masih, who had been accused of blasphemy, DawnNews reported on Saturday. 

 Rimsha was released from Adiala Jail, where she had been kept under detention for more than two weeks, and flown to an unknown location in a government helicopter.

Rimsha was brought from the jail in an armoured vehicle to the nearest helipad, where the government chopper was waiting to fly her out. A large number of security personnel, along with members of the Christian community, were present outside Adiala Jail.

Paul Bhatti, Pakistan’s minister for national harmony, told AFP that Rimsha was flown by helicopter to be reunited with her family.

“She has been freed from the jail and was transported by a helicopter to a safe place. Her family members received her,” he said.

Pakistan private TV channels broadcast footage of the girl wearing a traditional baggy green shirt and dark green trousers stepping out of an armoured vehicle and sitting in a helicopter.

Rimsha’s lawyer, Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, confirmed her release after two guarantors submitted a surety bond guaranteeing that the girl would reappear before court at the court’s choosing.

Earlier, on Friday, the teenage girl was granted bail by the court of additional sessions against two sureties of Rs.500,000 each.

“I accept her bail application,” Judge Mohammad Azam Khan had announced to a packed courtroom. “The bail application has been accepted against two sureties of 500,000 rupees each.”

Earlier, the court had reserved its ruling after hearing the arguments made by the counsels of both the complainant and the defendant.

The lawyer for the accused girl had submitted before the court that the girl was entitled to bail as she was a minor and that the FIR lodged by the police did not say that she desecrated a copy of the holy Quran.

On the contrary, the complainant’s counsel alleged that the girl had confessed to her guilt and hence was not entitled for bail.

The officer investigating the case told the court that Khalid Jadoon, the cleric who had been accused of tampering evidence, had deliberately added pages of the holy Quran to the plastic bag that the minor girl, who belonged to the Christian community, was carrying.

The prosecution lawyer alleged that the police, including the investigating officer, and doctors were manipulating the case to get the girl freed under international pressure, adding that, they feared the accused would be immediately sent abroad if bail was granted and that then the case would come to an end.

Moreover, the district attorney told the court that the blasphemy accused girl had stated her age to the magistrate as 16 years, adding that, the complainant in the case was receiving threats.

A large number of security personnel, members of civil society and international media persons were present outside the court as Judge Azam Khan heard the bail application of the accused girl whose case has made headlines in the international and local media.

The girl has been in custody since she was arrested in a poor Islamabad suburb more than two weeks ago after being accused of burning papers containing verses from the holy Quran.

Earlier on Monday, the case was adjourned until Sept 7 because of a lawyers’ strike, following a request from the lawyer for the girl’s neighbour Hammad Malik, who had filed the original complaint against her.

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