LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Thursday after hearing the concluding arguments of the defence and prosecution lawyers in the Zainab rape and murder case, has reserved its judgement till Saturday, Feb 17.
The hearing was conducted by ATC Judge Sajjad Ahmad at the Kot Lakhpat Jail, where the primary suspect, Imran Ali, is held on remand.
On Wednesday, the lawyer representing Imran Ali, the prime accused in the rape and murder case of seven-year-old Zainab, withdrew from the case, saying that after the suspect’s confession, his conscience cannot permit him to represent a hardened criminal.
Zainab, who was kidnapped from near her aunt’s house in Kasur on January 4, was found dead in a garbage heap five days later.
Following Mehr Shakeel Multani’s withdrawal on Wednesday, Punjab Prosecutor General Ehtesham Qadir assigned Imran a government lawyer, Mohammad Sultan.
A total of 36 witnesses have recorded their statements in the case so far, including Zainab’s paternal uncle and five-year-old brother.
Imran’s statement is expected to be recorded on Thursday after the statements of all the witnesses have been recorded. Ehtesham Qadir is assisting the ATC as per the orders of the superior courts.
A total of 56 witnesses have been named in the case.
On Monday, ATC indicted and formally charged Imran Ali in the case.
On Saturday, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Mian Saqib Nisar wrapped up the suo motu notice on Zainab’s rape and murder and directed the ATC to give a verdict within seven days after the indictment of the accused as per the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC).
The lawyer for Imran Ali, in an earlier hearing of the case, claimed that his client could not be convicted merely on the basis of a DNA test.
“DNA tests have no value in the eyes of the law. There is no other evidence against my client either,” the lawyer said during the hearing of the case at the anti-terrorism court.
The lawyer went on to claim that Imran Ali is innocent, adding that “people cannot be sent to jail just because Punjab Chief Minister (CM) Shehbaz Sharif wants them behind the bars”.
“The police have levelled baseless and false allegations against my client,” Multani told AFP.
Imran Ali pleaded not guilty to the offences against seven-year-old Zainab Fatima Ameen in the Punjab city of Kasur last month, said defence lawyer Mehr Shakeel Multani.
Earlier, reports said that Imran Ali, during court proceedings, had admitted to the rape and murder of Zainab.
SUSPECT A POSSIBLE SERIAL KILLER:
The suspected serial killer has also been nominated in the rape and murder cases of seven other children in Kasur. The investigation officer (IO) probing the cases told the ATC judge that the suspect had kidnapped, raped and killed a total of eight girls.
According to details, DNA samples of Imran Ali were sent to Punjab Forensic Science Agency (PFSA) in Lahore along with 1,050 other samples that were taken over the course of investigations into the rape and murder case of minor Zainab. Report from PFSA confirmed that Imran’s DNA sample matched with the traces that were collected from the victim’s body.
Furthermore, according to police, the suspect confessed to carrying out the heinous crime, and a polygraph test was also conducted which came positive, following which the criminal has been shifted to an undisclosed location.
The killer has reportedly told police that “djinn” is responsible for the rapes and murder of little girls, essentially saying that he was possessed by an entity.
It was revealed that Imran was initially booked on suspicion of involvement in the rape and murder of Zainab but was later released after his DNA samples were collected by the police. It was only after PFSA confirmed the matching of the DNA samples that he was rearrested on January 20 from Pakpattan.
Additionally, according to reports, Imran had shaved his beard after the incident which helped him evade arrest till now as the CCTV footage showed a man sporting a beard.