Witnesses turn hostile in Rimsha Masih case

Published: October 2, 2012

Witnesses say that police had 'coerced' them to testify against the cleric. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Three witnesses who had earlier testified against prayer leader Khalid Jadoon Chishti in the blasphemy case against Rimsha Masih withdrew their statements on Monday, insisting that the police had “coerced” them into doing so.

In their affidavits before the court, witnesses Hafiz Owais, Khurram Shahzad and Danish Ahmed reneged from their previously-recorded statements, claiming these were recorded under duress.

According to their new affidavits, they did not see prayer leader Chishti desecrating pages from the Holy Quran and stacking them to the evidence against Rimsha.

Earlier Shahzad and Owais had claimed that they saw the cleric tearing some pages of the Quran and placing them in a plastic bag. The eyewitnesses had claimed that Chishti added those torn pages to the ashes seized from 14-year-old Rimsha to implicate her.

The Ramna police station had recorded the statements from Owais and Shahzad, both of whom had endorsed what a third eyewitness Hafiz Zubair had said about the prayer leader. Consequently, on September 2, Chishti was sent to jail on a 14-day judicial remand.

After receiving the affidavits, Islamabad district and session judge Raja Jawad Abbas issued notices to Investigation Officer (IO) Munir Jaffri, District Attorney (DA) Mehfooz Paracha and complainant Hammad Malik and adjourned the case till October 3.

Separately, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) chief justice extended the stay on the trial court proceedings against the Christian girl till October 17. Earlier on September 28, the same bench had restrained the trial court proceedings till October 1.

During Monday’s hearing, the counsel for the complainant failed to appear before the court and as a consequence the court extended the stay and adjourned the case till October 17.

The petitioner’s counsel, Advocate Abdul Hameed Rana, had moved the petition seeking the cancellation of the FIR registered against Rimsha on August 16. The counsel told the bench that the police had registered an FIR against the girl under Section 295-B at the behest of Hammad Malik, a resident of Mera Jaffer, which was based on “mala fide intention”.

He informed the court that the three witnesses – including the prayer caller (muezzin) of the mosque and two other residents of that locality – had already recorded their statements against prayer leader Chishti which indicated that he was trying to strengthen the case against Rimsha so that her family could be evicted from the locality.

Earlier on September 7, the court had granted bail to the girl accused of blasphemy against two surety bonds of Rs500,000 each. She was flown off in a helicopter to an undisclosed location after her release from jail.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2012.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • KnoWht!
    Oct 2, 2012 - 5:30AM

    Taliban-1
    Gov’t- 0

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  • Oct 2, 2012 - 6:07AM

    This was expected in Pakistan – more like the witnesses were coerced!

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  • g
    Oct 2, 2012 - 6:30AM

    Throw him in jail for 10 years

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  • Hello1
    Oct 2, 2012 - 7:09AM

    This is generally how cases are “investigated” by our efficient police. They continue to follow 18th century practices. No wonder their success rate is so abysmal.

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  • Sonia
    Oct 2, 2012 - 7:33AM

    how thick and disgusting can someone get- don’t they have a conscience! Will they never ever be answerable!!!!

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  • IceSoul
    Oct 2, 2012 - 8:35AM

    Shouldn’t they be tried for perjury?

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  • Humayun
    Oct 2, 2012 - 9:37AM

    Why am i not surprised

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  • sajida
    Oct 2, 2012 - 9:59AM

    throw all the witnesses in jail too along with the lawyers,they are all liars and hypocrites.

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Oct 2, 2012 - 10:45AM

    The judiciary and police are exaggerating and just wasting time and money on this case and as a matter of fact if we see the Raymond Davis’ case who was confirmed killer was released within few days and sent to USA on top priority basis but whereas Rimsha is innocent and sinless and is misused by an illiterate mullah and is facing severe punishment whereas police has submitted her innocence’s certificate in the court and has declared her innocent and sinless.What the shameful attitude and face full of effrontery and meanness with an innocent and sinless little girl of our police and judiciary the world is seeing!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Maverick
    Oct 2, 2012 - 11:13AM

    So Rimsha is not innocent ? She doen’t look 14 Yr old either…….Recommend

  • Oct 2, 2012 - 6:22PM

    The shame these people are bringing to Muslims and Islam – May Allah forgive themRecommend

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