A Muslim cleric had been accused of framing a Christian girl in a blasphemy case
But several witnesses recanted their accusations against him
He was granted bail Thursday
The Muslim cleric accused of framing a young Christian girl in a blasphemy case in Pakistan was granted bail Thursday, his lawyer told CNN.
Bail was granted after several witnesses who initially accused the cleric of tampering with evidence to frame the girl recanted their statements.
The cleric, Khalid Jadoon Chishti, is expected to be released after he posts the $2,000 bail, attorney Wajid Ali Gilani said.
Rimsha Masih, the Christian teenager charged with blasphemy for allegedly burning pages of Islam’s holy book, has denied the charges.
Four witnesses initially told police they saw Chishti tear pages out of a Quran and put them with police evidence that led to the charges against Rimsha.
But three of them recanted those statements this month at a bail hearing for the cleric. A fourth witness stood by his initial statement.
The witnesses are a critical part of the police investigation that determined that the imam framed the teen. Based on that investigation and a lack of witnesses, Rimsha’s lawyers are now appealing to have the blasphemy charges dismissed.
The teen’s case has sparked international outcry against the Pakistani government, with some saying that blasphemy laws are used to settle scores and persecute religious minorities.
Police arrested Rimsha in August after her neighbor accused her of burning Quran pages for use as cooking fuel, investigators said.
According to police, Chishti wasn’t certain that simply burning pages with texts from the Quran would be enough to convict Rimsha on blasphemy charges. So he added two pages from the actual holy book to the bag to bolster the case, they said.
In addition to charges of tampering with evidence, Chishti could also face blasphemy charges as a result of the police investigation.
CNN’s Shaan Khan contributed to this report.