By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN (Worthy News)– A court in Islamabad Saturday dismissed charges against a Muslim cleric arrested on suspicion of framing a Christian girl for blasphemy, according to Morning Star News.
Khalid Jadoon, leader of a mosque in Islamabad's Meherabadi suburb, had been charged with desecrating the Quran and planting false evidence against Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old who is afflicted with Downs Syndrome.
Jadoon was acquitted after prosecution witnesses all suddenly retracted their statements. Attorney Tahir Naveed told Morning Star News that Jadoon's acquittal was because police couldn't protect the witnesses from the threats of violent Islamists.
"The court freed Jadoon because the police failed to assure the witnesses that they would not be harmed," Naveed said.
The case against Jadoon relied heavily on witness testimonies that he had added pages of the Quran to a bag of ashes carried by Masih, who was later charged as an adult for blasphemy and kept in a high security prison for nearly a month. Masih was released on bail after allegations surfaced that Jadoon had planted the pages on her so that outraged mobs of Muslims would force all the Christian families out of her neighborhood.
Jadoon's lawyer, Wajid Gillani, told Morning Star News that Judge Raja Jawad Abbas ruled that there wasn't enough evidence for a case against his client.
"All the witnesses told the judge that they had been forced by the investigation officer, Sub-Inspector Munir Jaffery, to record statements against Jadoon," Gillani said.
All seven witnesses against Jadoon retracted their statements, claiming that police had coerced them into implicating the imam.