The case against a Pakistani Christian girl potentially facing a death sentence for allegedly burning sacred Islamic texts has been thrown into doubt after her local mullah was arrested on accusations of tampering with evidence in order to frame her.
Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti appeared in court on Sunday after witnesses claimed to have seen him adding pages of the Qur’an to a bag of ashes Rimsha Masih had been carrying away for disposal last month in order to strengthen the case against her.
Although many of the cases brought under the country’s much criticised blasphemy laws are thought to be spurious, the Rimsha case is thought to be the first time in the more than two decades since the laws were introduced that someone has been arrested for fabricating evidence.
But while the dramatic turn of events delighted the girl’s supporters, a prosecution lawyer insisted he would press ahead with the case against her.
Last month a local man, Malik Hammad, spotted the girl with the ashes and accused her of burning a prayer book that included passages from the Qur’an, a particularly provocative form of blasphemy which can carry the death penalty.
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