LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday directed the Kot Lakhpat Jail superintendent to present case record and a report on an appeal of Imran Ali against his conviction in rape-cum-murder case of seven-year-old Zainab of Kasur.

A division bench of the LHC headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan was hearing the appeal of the condemned prisoner. Appearance of the convict before the court is not necessary for proceedings on the appeal.

On Feb 17, an anti-terrorism court sentenced Imran to death on four counts with cumulative punishment of 32-year imprisonment and Rs4.1 million fine for raping and killing seven-year old Zainab.

In his appeal, the convict pleaded not guilty and claimed the trial was conducted in haste and legal requirements were not fulfilled during the trial. He asked the court to overturn the ATC's verdict.

It may be mentioned here that the trial court had awarded him punishment on the basis of forensic, material and circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution in addition to the confession made by the convict.

The bench adjourned the hearing till March 12, directing the jail superintendent to present record of the case.

The brutal rape and murder of Zainab last month sparked outrage and protests across the country. Hers was 12th incident of rape and murder of a child that took place within a 10-kilometer radius since Oct last year.

Thousands of people took to the street while two people lost their lives during the protests in Kasur. #JusticeForZainab became most popular hashtag on the social media and people from all walks of life demanded immediate arrest and punishment to the culprit.

Zainab went missing on January 4 and her body was found at a heap of garbage near her house on Jan 9.

The public demand for immediate arrest of the culprit resulted in an unprecedented search in which almost all law enforcement and intelligence agencies took part and a large pool of suspects was probed, besides carrying out DNA profiling of more than 1,100 people.

On Jan 23, police took Imran into custody and secured his 16-day physical remand for investigation. On Feb 9, police submitted challan to the ATC and charged him of rape and serial killing of minor girls, including Zainab.

The convict initially pleaded not guilty but later confessed to his crimes.

Talking to media, Anees Ansari, father of seven-year old Zainab, expressed dissatisfaction with the police investigation into the case and complained that justice had not been done. He said he made two telephone calls to Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar but his staff did not help him reach the CJP.

The CJP had asked the girl’s father to contact him for any complaint.