LAHORE  -  An Anti-Terrorism Court Saturday announced four death sentences to a man for raping and murdering a seven-year-old girl, in a case that shook Pakistan and drew attention of the whole world.

Imran Ali was on trial for murdering Zainab Fatima Ameen last month in Kasur. The gruesome incident had sparked countrywide protests, which turned violent in victim girl’s hometown and claimed two more lives.

The 24-year-old serial killer faces further charges in the cases of at least seven other children attacked in the same city – five of whom were murdered. He has confessed to all these rapes and murders.

ATC-I Judge Sajjad Ahmad announced the 85-page judgment at Kot Lakhpat jail in Zainab case that included terrorism charges, handing the convict an additional 32-year accumulative imprisonment and Rs4.1 million fine.

It is the first case in country’s history wherein the trial concluded in just five days, since its commencement last Saturday, as the decision had already been made on Thursday and was announced two days later.

Speaking outside the jail court, girls parents demanded public hanging of the killer at the very spot their kid was brutalised.

Urging for treating rape and murder of children as exception, they asked the legislators to pass a law to allow public hanging in such cases to serve as a greater deterrent.

“Accused/convict Imran Ali shall be hanged by his neck until he is dead, however, sentence of death shall not be executed till its confirmation by the Honorable, Lahore High Court,” the judgment read.

The judge directed for sending the reference to Lahore High Court for confirmation of the sentence while the convict, who was present in the court, was sent to Central Jail.

The convict now has 15 days to approach the LHC and file appeal. In case the High Court turns down his appeal, he may approach the Supreme Court within a 30-day period.

Security was increased in and around the central jail and the movement of everyone going in and out of the jail was strictly monitored.

Details of sentence

According to details of the punishment, the trial court awarded Imran death sentence along with fine of Rs1 million under Section 364-A and 376 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

He was given death sentence under Section 302-B PPC and Rs1 million under Section 544-A of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), as compensation to the legal heirs of the victim girl.

He was further awarded death sentence under Section 7 (a) Anti Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997, with fine of Rs1 million, life imprisonment with fine of Rs1 million under Section 377, and further 2-year imprisonment if he fails to pay fine.

The court also awarded him seven-year imprisonment under Section 201 of Pakistan Penal Code with fine of Rs100,000. In default of this fine, the convict shall further undergo three month imprisonment.

Talking to the reporters, Prosecutor General Punjab Ehtesham Qadir said, “He [the convict] was given ample chance to defend himself but he confessed to his crimes in the court.” He said Imran had confessed to all the eight murders, including Zainab’s.



Parents demand

Zainab’s father Haji Muhammad Amin and her mother Nusrat Bibi also arrived at Kot Lakhpat to witness the verdict early Saturday morning.

Talking to the reporters outside the jail, the mother demanded public hanging of the convict at the very place her child was brutalised. “Hang him [culprit] at the exact same spot where he took my daughter,” she said.

In response to a question, Nusrat said that a law should be passed for such kids who fall victim to such heinous crimes.

“Such law can be passed for public execution of these criminals,” she said. “I request the authorities to ensure that such a law is made for minor girls,” she added.

The demand for public hanging of Imran Ali was repeated by Zainab’s father and their counsel Aftab Bajwa.

“I and [victim] girl’s father both want that the convict be hanged publicly at the place where her body was found,” said Bajwa, who is a former secretary of Supreme Court Bar Association.




Case history

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

Thousands of people took to the streets 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 was found at a heap of garbage nearby 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 secret agencies took part and a large pool of suspects were probed, besides carrying out DNA profiling of more than 1,100 people.

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

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

His counsel Mehr Shakeel advocate took his brief but withdrew his power of attorney when the convict gave confessional statement before the court.

The prosecution presented at least 56 witnesses against the suspect in addition to forensic evidence, including DNA and polygraph tests.

The trial was wrapped up within four days, even though the Lahore High Court had given seven days for its completion.

The Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, which was also applied in the case, also requires the trial court to proceed on a day-to-day basis and decide the case within seven working days.

A special prosecution team headed by Abdul Rauf Wattoo prosecuted the suspect during the trial.

Commenting on the trial court’s decision, criminal law expert Azam Nazir Tarar expressed some reservations on the trial.

Military courts’ procedures are in-camera, their proceedings are totally unseen to the public, but the working of the regular courts should not be off the public sight, he held.

However, he said the weakness in the trail, if any, could be overcome in an appeal before the high court. The appeal would be considered as a continuation of the trial, he added.



Zainab’s killer handed four death sentences