A young Pakistani Christian girl accused of burning pages of the Holy Koran has been released from a jail near the country’s capital Islamabad, according to reports.
Rimsha Masih was released from the Adiala jail after being granted bail on Friday.
She was covered in a white sheet to protect her identity and driven by armoured car to a waiting army helicopter before being flown to an unknown location.
The girl, described by medical officials as being 14 years old with the mental capacity of someone much younger, was arrested last month near her home in the impoverished Mehrabadi area of Islamabad.
She had been set upon by a mob and beaten after being accused of burning several pages torn from a Koran.
Scores of Christian families from the area were forced to flee in fear soon after Masih’s arrest.
Her detention provoked a storm of condemnation internationally and even in Pakistan where support for the country’s draconian blasphemy laws remain high.
Days later, an Islamic cleric was arrested for trying to ‘frame’ Masih in what some police officials described was a bid to force Christian families out of the Muslim-majority neighbourhood.
Witnesses claimed to have seen Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti placing pages of the Koran in a bag of ashes Masih had been carrying for disposal near her home.
Chishti had once appeared on national television to complain about the noisiness of church services in Mehrabadi, saying it had “disturbed” Muslim residents.
In his ruling granting bail judge Mohammad Azam Khan said the cleric’s arrest cast serious doubts on the prosecution’s case.
Her lawyers say they will now push to have the case against her thrown out entirely.
People accused of blasphemy in Pakistan could face sentences of life in prison and even death.
Critics however, have long complained that the laws are routinely used to settle vendettas and property disputes.
– Viji Alles