Pakistan Cleric Arrested for Evidence Tampering in Blasphemy Case

Posted September 2nd, 2012 at 3:40 am (UTC-5)
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Pakistan police have arrested a Muslim cleric on suspicion that he planted evidence against a Christian girl accused of blasphemy.

A police official said the cleric was arrested Saturday for allegedly placing pages of the Quran in the girl's shopping bag.

Police arrested the girl more than two weeks ago after angry neighbors surrounded her house in Islamabad, accusing her of burning pages inscribed with verses from the Quran. A bail hearing will be held for the girl Monday.

Under Pakistan's blasphemy law, anyone who speaks ill of Islam and the Prophet Mohammad commits a crime and faces the death penalty.

There are varying reports of the girl's age, with some saying she is as young as 11 years. old. Others quote police who say she is 16. There are also reports the girl is mentally handicapped.

Human rights activists say the blasphemy law in Pakistan is sometimes used to harass religious minorities.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Khan Babar has said blasphemy cannot be condoned, but no one would be allowed to use it to settle personal scores.

Two prominent Pakistani politicians were killed in 2011 for speaking out against the country's blasphemy law.