Policemen escort cleric Hafiz Mohammed Khalid Jadoon (C) upon his arrival at a court in Islamabad on September 2, 2012. A Pakistani cleric who submitted evidence against a Christian girl accused of blasphemy has been arrested on suspicion of evidence-tampering and desecrating the Quran, police said. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: The cleric who was arrested on Saturday over suspicion of planting evidence against a Christian girl accused of blasphemy was produced in court on Sunday under strict security arrangements as the hearing for the blasphemy case resumed, DawnNews reported.

Imam Khalid Jadoon was produced in the court of Duty Magistrate, Judge Nasar Minallah Baloch.

Islamabad police had submitted an application to the court requesting for the remand of Khalid Jadoon.

The court remanded Jadoon into judicial custody for 14 days  and ordered that the accused be produced in court after the expiry of the remand.

Police sources said that the Imam would be charged under section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code for the offence of ‘deliberate and malicious act of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens by insulting its religious beliefs’ as stipulated by section 295-A of the Pakistan Penal Code.

While talking to media persons before the hearing Jadoon alleged that the administration of Islamabad was conspiring against him and that the Christian girl was guilty and would remain guilty.

The girl has been in custody since she was arrested in a poor Islamabad suburb more than two weeks ago accused of burning papers containing verses from the Quran, in breach of Pakistan’s strict blasphemy laws.

Khalid Jadoon, the imam of the mosque in the blasphemy accused's poor area of Islamabad who first handed over evidence, was arrested on Saturday after his assistants told a magistrate he had added pages from the Quran to the burnt pages to strengthen the case against the girl.

“The imam was arrested after his deputy Hafiz Zubair and two others told a magistrate he added pages from the Quran to the burnt pages brought to him by a witness,” police investigator Munir Hussain Jaffri said.

Zubair and the two others, Mohammad Shahzad and Awais Ahmed, told police they had urged Jadoon not to interfere with the papers, Jaffri said.

“They protested that he should not add something to the evidence and he should give the evidence to the police as he got it and should not do this,”Jaffri said.

“But they said Jadoon said: 'You know this is the only way to expel the Christians from this area'.” On August 24 Jadoon told AFP he thought the girl had burned the pages deliberately as part of a Christian “conspiracy” to insult Muslims and said action should have been taken sooner to stop what he called their “anti-Islam activities” in Mehrabad.

Jaffri said the cleric was arrested at his home on Saturday under the blasphemy law.

“By putting these pages in the ashes he also committed desecration of the Holy Quran and he is being charged with blasphemy,” he said.

A medical report earlier this week said the accused girl appeared to be around 14 years old, which would make her a minor, and had a mental age below her true age, but the court has yet to decide whether to accept the assessment.

The girl must wait until at least Monday to learn if she will be given bail, after a judge adjourned her case on Saturday amid doubts over legal paperwork.

Some reports have said that the girl has Down’s Syndrome and her case has prompted concern from Western governments and anger from rights groups, who warn the blasphemy legislation is often abused to settle personal vendettas.

She is being held in a high-security jail in Islamabad's twin city Rawalpindi and on Friday a judge extended her remand for another two weeks.


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