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Girl in blasphemy case deemed a minor
Defense lawyer says ruling raises hopes she may be freed on bailChristians who fled a slum in Islamabad after the arrest of a young girl on charges of blasphemy
- ucanews.com reporter, Islamabad
- August 29, 2012
Medical tests determined Rimsha Masih was about 14 years old.
She will face a juvenile court hearing tomorrow, said the Islamabad district court judge, Rana Jawad Hasan.
â€śShe is underage and a minor, therefore the case should proceed under the juvenile law system,â€ť he said.
Under Pakistani law, children under 15 must be tried in a juvenile court while those under 12 are deemed to be incapable of taking responsibility for their own actions and cannot be found guilty.
Although medical examinations presented to the court dismissed claims by Masihâ€™s parents that she is only 11 years old, her lawyer Tahir Naveed Chaudhry said he was confident the court would release her on bail following tomorrowâ€™s hearing.
â€śThe proof of her illiteracy, being underage and mental illness increase the prospects for her freedom,â€ť he said. â€śAll facts and figures support her.â€ť
Masih was arrested earlier this month after she was found in possession of burned pages of the Quâ€™ran in a Christian slum on the outskirts of Islamabad.
The case has sparked international condemnation of a country whose blasphemy laws remain among the strictest in the world. Those found guilty can be sentenced to death.
Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the Catholic Churchâ€™s National Commission for Justice and Peace, said cases such as Masihâ€™s were rarely clear-cut as authorities were often afraid to take a stand.
Last year, two officials were killed for expressing opposition to Pakistanâ€™s blasphemy laws.
â€śA change in the blasphemy laws is only possible with pressure from the international community,â€ť he said.
Protesters urge rethink of blasphemy laws
US calls blasphemy arrest 'disturbing'