Witnesses in Pak blasphemy case turn hostile
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The three men who had accused a cleric of tampering evidence to implicate a young, Christian girl Rimsha Masih in a blasphemy case on Monday withdrew their statement, claiming they were tortured by police to testify against the imam.
The three witnesses, who had earlier recorded statements against cleric Khalid Chishti, submitted a fresh statement in the court of a district and sessions judge in Islamabad that said police had forced them to blame Chishti for the incident.
The witnesses claimed police had tortured them and made them give statements against Chishti.
One of the witnesses is Hafiz Mohammad Zubair, who works as the muezzin in the mosque where Chishti is the cleric.
Despite their dramatic turnaround on Monday, the three witnesses had earlier spoken to several TV news channels and accused Chishti of tampering with evidence to implicate Rimsha in a blasphemy case. They said Chishti had added burnt pages of a religious text to a shopping bag that was in Rimsha's possession.
The district and sessions judge put off the hearing of a bail application by Chishti till October 3. Police had earlier submitted an interim challan or chargesheet that said Chishti had tampered with evidence. Chishti was earlier remanded in judicial custody.
In a separate development, the Islamabad High Court on Monday extended the stay on the trial of Rimsha on blasphemy charges till October 17.
A single-judge bench of the High Court issued the extension while hearing a petition filed by Rimsha's lawyer for quashing the FIR against her.
During the hearing, a representative for the prosecution told the court that the lawyer was not in Islamabad. He requested the bench to give the lawyer more time to appear in court. The judge granted the prosecution's request and extended the stay on the trial.
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