Pakistan drops charges in Rimsha 'blasphemy' cleric case

Muslim cleric Khalid Jadoon (blindfolded) is escorted by police in Islamabad (2 Sept 2012) Image copyright AP
Image caption Khalid Jadoon was arrested after being accused of framing a young Christian girl for blasphemy

A Pakistani court has dismissed charges against a Muslim cleric who had been arrested on suspicion of framing a Christian girl accused of blasphemy.

The imam had accused 14-year-old Rimsha Masih of burning pages from the Koran.

The teenager spent several weeks in prison, and has since fled to Canada with her family.

Khalid Jadoon was never formally indicted, and as witnesses have now withdrawn their accusations he has been freed.

It had been claimed that he planted pages of the Koran in a bag containing ash which was seized from the girl, who is believed to have learning difficulties.

Mr Jadoon's attorney and a prosecution lawyer told BBC Urdu that a district court accepted there was no case to be heard against him.

Rimsha was arrested in a Christian area of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, after a furious crowd demanded she be punished.

She and her family had to go into hiding after her release from jail in September 2012.

The case provoked widespread international concern about the application of Pakistan's blasphemy laws, and the status of members of minority religions in the predominately Muslim country.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Rimsha and her family received death threats and were forced into hiding

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