Via LA Times:

A Muslim cleric who had accused a young Christian girl of desecrating the Koran has been arrested on suspicion of fabricating the case against her, a development that her lawyer said could lead to the girl’s release.

Police late Saturday arrested Khalid Chishti, an imam at a mosque in the same Islamabad neighborhood where the girl lived, and charged him with planting pages from the Koran into a bag of ashes and trash that the girl was taking to a garbage bin. Chishti was among the group of Muslims who claimed the girl, Rimsha Masih, had violated the country’s controversial blasphemy law.

In Pakistan, it is a crime to desecrate the Koran or insult the prophet Muhammad or the Islamic faith in any way. In some instances a conviction can lead to the death sentence.

Rimsha’s case has garnered international attention, in part because of her age. Authorities initially said she was 11 years old, but a recent medical report put her age at 14. That still makes her a juvenile, and raises questions about why she has been held at an adult jail since her arrest Aug. 16.

With Chishti’s arrest on charges of fabricating a case against the girl, Rimsha’s lawyers will push for her instant release and acquittal, said Akmal Waheed Bhatti, a lawyer and member of Rimsha’s defense team. Her case comes up again at an Islamabad court Monday.

“Now we can say that there is nothing to this case,” Bhatti said Sunday. “The situation is clear, now that this imam has been arrested. Now there’s a big chance that Rimsha will be released on Monday.”

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