Imran given seven-year sentence, fined Rs1m for desecrating body of the girl
An anti-terrorism court Saturday handed four death sentences to a man charged with raping and murdering Zainab, in a case that shocked the country and sparked major riots in Kasur district.
The gruesome assault in Kasur town led to the setting up of a special task force which traced the rapist, 24-year-old Imran Ali, using DNA samples.
Imran Ali was sentenced on four counts – murdering a child, kidnapping a child, raping a minor and committing an unnatural act with a minor. He was also given a seven-year sentence and fined Rs1 million for desecrating the body of the girl. Ali will have 15 days to file an appeal.
The prosecution team’s lawyer said his team has brought the culprit to justice. “Our judiciary now uses DNA evidence like other countries to conclude a case,” he said during a media briefing after the verdict was announced.
Imran Ali, 24, was on trial for the killing of seven-year-old Zainab Fatima Ameen last month. He faces further charges in the cases of at least seven other children attacked — five of whom were murdered. He has confessed to all eight attacks, including the death of Zainab.
Ali was handed four separate death sentences after being convicted of the rape and murder of Zainab, as well as terrorism charges, prosecutor general of Punjab Ihtesham Qadir said after a special anti-terrorism court passed its judgement.
The prosecutors said he received further life imprisonment and fines totalling 3.2 million rupees for additional charges of hiding his victim´s body. One million rupees of the fine would be given in compensation to Zainab´s family, public prosecutor Abdul Rauf Wattoo told media.
The trial was held in Lahore´s Kot Lakhpat prison for security reasons. Journalists were stopped 500 meters from the prison and only relatives of the victim were allowed in court for the hearing.
Strict security was deployed outside the prison at the time of announcement of the judgement and every visitor was physically checked.
Zainab´s mother Nusrat Bibi demanded execution of the death penalties be carried out in public. “I want him to be hanged publicly at the place where he took Zainab,” she told reporters after the verdict.
Ali confessed to eight cases, but it is not clear if the four others are linked. According to the victim´s father Ameen Ansari, Ali — who lived nearby — had taken part in the initial protests that erupted after Zainab´s body was discovered.
The court reserved the verdict on Thursday after conclusion of arguments by the parties. ATC-I Judge Sajjad Ahmad conducted the proceedings of the trial on daily basis in compliance with the directions of the Lahore High Court at Kot Lakhpat Jail.
The prosecution team presented 56 witnesses against the accused Imran Ali and claimed that he was guilty of the crime in the light of evidence, including the DNA report. The prosecution also submitted forensic reports of videos and other materials to support its case. The prosecution team comprising Abdul Rauf Wattoo, Abid Waqar Bhatti, Hafiz Asghar and Farah Faiz argued the case whereas Prosecutor General Punjab Ehtesham Qadir also remained present in the court during the trial.
On Wednesday, the prosecution department provided the accused with a state lawyer after his private defence counsel withdrew his power of attorney, following the confession, made by Imran Ali.
Advocate Mehar Shakeel Multani told reporters outside the jail that he could never think of defending a criminal and had, therefore, decided to withdraw his power of attorney.
He said the suspect had misled him about his innocence. Initially, the accused had denied the charges and opted to contest the trial at the time of framing of charges. However, he made a confession soon after.
The accused was indicted on February 12, whereas the court recorded his complete statement on February 14. Seven-year-old Zainab was kidnapped on January 4 from near her aunt’’s house in Kasur. The sentencing of Imran Ali Naqshbandi has included Pakistan in the list of countries that have used scientific technology to prosecute and sentence a criminal. Zainab’s father, Mohammad Amin, expressed a sigh of relief at the sentencing of his daughter’s rapist and killer. “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.”