A Manchester imam has had a conviction for molesting a woman quashed by an appeals court.
After the verdict Hafiz Abbasi, 33, said he “suffered for two years” after being accused of sexual assault in 2016.
Last year he was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault following a trial at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court.
He was handed a 12-month community order and later sacked by his mosque in Whalley Range over the allegations, even though he always denied guilt.
After the convictions were quashed, Pakistan-born Abbasi told the Manchester Evening News: “I have suffered for two years. I stayed in this country to fight my case. I believed I would get justice. Now I’m happy. I’m not guilty. I’m innocent.”
He said he did not know why he had been accused and the name of his accuser has not been made public for legal reasons.
His lawyer Nadeem Ullah, of Abbey solicitors, said: “We are pleased to confirm that Hafiz Haroon Abbasi, a renowned imam, has had his conviction overturned on appeal to Manchester Crown Court which was heard on March 23, 2018.
“Mr Abbasi had been wrongfully accused of molesting a woman, twice, during a trial at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court.
“As a consequence of the wrongful conviction, the respected imam was removed from his employment at Mimjag-Ul-Qur Central Mosque. He is now relieved at the fact that his conviction has been overturned and he has maintained his innocence throughout the proceedings. He expects to be re-instated shortly.”