Pakistan 'blasphemy' girl case sent to juvenile court

A judge on Monday ordered police to refer the case of a Pakistani Christian girl accused of blasphemy to a juvenile court, following a medical report that said she was 14.

Rimsha Masih spent three weeks on remand in an adult jail after she was arrested on August 16 for allegedly burning pages from the Koran in a case that prompted worldwide condemnation.

Police on Saturday told the court the girl was not guilty and a cleric who allegedly framed her should face trial instead.

"We have received the medical report which says she is aged 14. The investigation report of her case must be submitted in a juvenile court," Judge Raja Jawad Abbas said on Monday.

Rao Abdur Rahim, the lawyer for Rimsha's neighbour Hammad Malik, who originally accused her, objected to the medical report, but Abbas told him he should apply to the juvenile court when it takes up the case.

The judge later adjourned the case till October 1, summoning local imam Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Chishti, who was arrested for allegedly adding pages from the Koran to a bag of burnt papers, to the next hearing.

Rimsha, who is currently free on bail, was also asked to appear following an accusation from Rahim that she had absconded to Norway.

An official medical report has classified her as "uneducated" and aged 14, but with a mental age younger than her years. Others have said she is as young as 11 and suffers from Down's Syndrome.

Rimsha and her family, who have been in fear for their lives since the blasphemy allegations, were moved to an undisclosed location after her release on bail on September 8.

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