LAHORE - The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday dismissed appeal of Imran Ali and upheld decision of the trial court, which had convicted him for raping and killing Zainab Amin, a seven-year-old girl of Kasur.

A division bench headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan and Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhary upheld the decision of the trial court, which had given death penalty to the appellant on four counts with cumulative punishment of 32-year imprisonment and Rs4.1 million fine for raping and killing the girl.

Advocate Asad Jamal appeared on behalf of the convict and pleaded for more time for preparation of the case. However, the bench rejected his plea and asked him to resume his arguments, observing that otherwise state counsel would be provided to the convict.

On this, the appellant’s counsel commenced his arguments and challenged the legal value of DNA report upon which the trial court had convicted him. He said that DNA was not a solid evidence and the court could not rely upon it.

The lawyer said the trial was not held, arguing that the trial court had no jurisdiction to hold the trial in the case. He again requested the bench to adjourn the proceedings so that he could prepare his arguments.

However, the bench refused to postpone the hearing and asked the prosecution to argue on the case. On this, Additional Prosecutor General Abdul Samad contended that the trial court convicted him after he (Imran Ali) confessed to his crime, and also relied upon DNA report and statement of the witnesses. He opposed the appeal and asked the bench to dismiss the same.

After hearing both sides, the bench turned down the appeal and upheld the sentence awarded to the appellant by the trial court.  The convict still has the right to challenge the decision of the Lahore High Court before the Supreme Court.

Amin Ansar, father of the victim girl, was also present in the courtroom. Later, talking to reporters, he said he was satisfied with the decision of the high court and said that justice had been done in the case.  It may be mentioned here that the trial court had awarded Imran punishment on the basis of forensic, material and circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution in addition to the confession made by the convict.

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-kilometre 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.