- ATC judge announces four death penalties for kidnapping, raping, murdering Zainab, and for committing an act of terrorism
- Hands life sentence, along with a Rs1 million fine, to Ali for sodomy and another 7-year jail sentence, Rs1 million fine for concealing body in trash heap
- Punjab Prosecution Department says government has authority to execute the convict at site of crime
LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday found Imran Ali — the man accused of raping and murdering seven-year-old Zainab Amin in Kasur last month — guilty of the charges brought against him, and handed him four counts of the death penalty, one life term, a 7-year jail term and Rs 4.1 million in fines.
The verdict was announced by ATC Judge Sajjad Ahmad at the Kot Lakhpat Jail, where Imran Ali is being held.
The four death penalties were for kidnapping, raping and murdering Zainab, and for committing an act of terrorism under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
ATA’s section 7 (a) reads: “Death of any person is caused, shall be punishable, on conviction, with death or with imprisonment for life, and with fine.”
The life sentence, along with a Rs1 million fine, was handed to Ali for sodomy; another 7-year jail sentence and Rs1 million fine were imposed for disrespecting the dead body by throwing it in a trash heap.
Additionally, Rs1 million from the penalties imposed will be paid to the victim’s heirs, the judge ruled.
Ali faces further charges in the cases of at least seven other children he attacked — five of whom were murdered — in a spate of assaults that had stoked fears a serial child killer was on the loose. He has confessed to all eight attacks, including the death of Zainab.
Briefing reporters about the sentence, Punjab Prosecutor General Ehtesham Qadir said the accused had been given ample chance to defend himself, but he chose to confess his crimes despite being told clearly that any information he divulged would be used against him.
“When he was read the charges, we asked the court to let Imran Ali deliberate the matter for 40 minutes,” the prosecutor said. “The convict was then told that anything he says will be used against him in court, after which he confessed. After this, we also proved the voluntariness of the convict in court and then proceeded to trial.”
Nonetheless, the prosecution chose to submit all its evidence in court so that the case remained airtight. The prosecutor also said this was “the first case to examine scientific evidence” in a case of this nature.
Ali is granted right to appeal against the decision under the Section-25 of ATA within 15 days. According to the sub-section 5, the Lahore High Court (LHC) will be bound to decide the appeal within seven days. After the rejection of the appeal to LHC, Ali can file an appeal in the Supreme Court and to President Mamnoon Hussain.
‘CONVICT SHOULD BE STONED TO DEATH’:
Zainab’s mother, Nusrat Bibi, and father Muhammad Amin expressed satisfaction over the verdict but demanded that the execution of the death penalties be carried out in public.
“I want him to be hanged publicly at the place where he took Zainab,” Nusrat Bibi told reporters after the verdict.
Muhammad Amin also demanded that the convict should be stoned to death. Amin said the culprit should be handed down an exemplary punishment so as to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future.
He said it was because of CJP Nisar’s special interest that the case was being taken to its logical conclusion at such a pace.
PROSECUTION FOR PUBLIC HANGING:
After the family’s demand for public hanging, the Punjab Prosecution Department decided to recommend public execution of the convict, Imran Ali, to the Punjab government.
According to media reports, the prosecution departments said that there is no need for amendment in the law for public execution as the provincial government has the authority to replace the area of execution and it can execute the convict where the crime was committed, it added.
PAEDOPHILIA IN PAKISTAN:
In 2016, 4,139 incidents of child abuse took place where 43 per cent of the survivors were acquainted with the criminals, while 16 per cent of the reported cases showed family members as the perpetrator.
Lahore saw 107 cases of child rape, the report prepared by Punjab’s additional chief secretary and additional inspector general stated. It further pointed out that 2017 saw a higher number of reported child rape cases than 2016.
In 2016 and 2017 years, 1,297 cases of child rape were reported in Punjab; out of these, 66 cases were reported in Kasur, 38 in Sheikhupura, 50 in Khushab. Out of the total number, 252 were cases of sexual assault against girls while 1,045 were cases of sexual assault against boys.
These cases are often ignored as the victim families often try to avoid going to the police and courts over the taboo surrounding the practice.
Following the verdict, a large number of people took to social media site Twitter and expressed their content with the verdict; however, some expressed hope that other rape cases–reported and unreported– also be brought to a logical conclusion.
Twitter user Wajahat Kazmi wrote: “#ZainabMurderCase – Culprit Imran to be hanged 4 times – Court announces capital punishment and 3.2 million rupees penalty for the vicious rapist & murderer. Justice has prevailed for Zainab but there are thousands of more Zainabs awaiting justice. Hope justice is served to all.”
Jibran Nasir wrote: “Today families of all victims of Imran got justice. However the ATC judgment today is only beginning of the road to justice for family of Mudassir who was killed in 2017 in Kasur in an ‘encounter’ in case of Iman Fatima and falsely accused by Police to be the rapist @CMShehbaz.”
PPP leader Aitzaz Ahsan said: “Justice Served. A great decision by the court of awarding this demon death penalty. Hope the Appeal thing happens quickly, so that this evil person could be hanged as soon as possible.”
The trial in the case was concluded on Thursday when ATC-I Judge Sajjad Ahmad reserved the verdict after cross examination of all the prosecution witnesses was completed by state counsel Muhammad Sultan who was appointed by the trial court to represent Imran Ali.
On Wednesday, the lawyer representing Imran Ali withdrew from the case, saying that after the suspect’s confession, his conscience cannot permit him to represent a hardened criminal.
Following Mehr Shakeel Multani’s withdrawal on Wednesday, the prosecutor general assigned Imran a government lawyer, Mohammad Sultan. A total of 56 witnesses were 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.
The trial court had concluded the proceedings within four days. The Lahore High Court had given seven days for completion of the trial.