Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro

MUZAFFARABAD: A Pakistani court granted bail on Friday to a couple who confessed to murdering their daughter with acid, citing lack of evidence and witnesses, lawyers said.

Police arrested Mohammad Zafar and his wife Zaheen Akhtar a week after the October 29 attack on their 15-year-old daughter Anusha, who died in agony from horrific burns in Pakistan-administered Kashmir after allegedly looking at boys.

But district and sessions judge Munir Gilani granted bail because “police had no evidence and they could produce no witnesses,” public prosecutor Mohammad Ali Rathor told reporters.

“The court found it a weak case and, giving the benefit of doubt, granted bail to her parents,” he said.

“No one appeared on behalf of the deceased girl and no human or women rights activists came to pursue the case,” Rathor added.

Defence lawyer Riaz Naveed Butt said the couple were released in Kotli, 130 kilometres (80 miles) north of regional capital Muzaffarabad, after depositing bonds worth 100,000 rupees ($1,020) each.

“My plea was that she was not killed, she committed suicide,” Butt told AFP.

He said that Anusha, who spent two days in agony in hospital, had failed to give a statement naming her killers before she died.

Rathor said he would appeal against bail because the couple had “confessed”.

The parents told AFP in an interview last month that they waited two days to take Anusha to hospital, where a doctor said she arrived in a “very critical condition” with almost 70 percent burns.

Anusha's mother Zaheen spoke of her remorse for what happened. “I deeply regret my action. I am repenting as I should not have done this. She was very innocent,” she told AFP from her police cell in November.

She said she and her husband feared Anusha would follow in the footsteps of her elder sister, who was married off at 16 “because people had been talking about her bad character”.

Rights activists say more than 900 women were murdered last year after being accused of bringing shame on their families.

Many such killings are passed off as suicide and suspects who are arrested are often released due to lack of evidence.

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