LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Thursday acquitted seven men in one of the nine cases police had registered in the Kasur child abuse scandal.

The presiding judge, Chaudhry Muhammad Ilyas, acquitted Saleem Akhtar Sherazi, Attiqur Rehman, Tanzeelur Rehman, Haseem Amir, Aleem Asif, Waseem Abid and Naseem Sheraz, giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Ganda Singhwala police had registered cases against them as well as some other people on charges of abducting and sexually assaulting 280 children in Kasur. Most victims belonged to Husain Khanwala village.

The accused had also been blackmailing the families of the boys since 2009 and even sold the video clips having images of the assault. Later, a property dispute brought the issue to the surface.

The counsel for the accused argued that police implicated them in the cases on government’s pressure and they had no role in the scandal. He requested the court to release the arrested men.

Earlier on Aug 19, the ATC acquitted Saleem Akhtar Sherazi, Attiqur Rehman, Tanzeelur Rehman and Haseem Amir in another case (of the same scandal).

Last year, the court had awarded life imprisonment to Faizan Majeed and Haseem Amir in one of the many cases after the prosecution had accused them of sexually assaulting young boys and filming the act to blackmail the families.

The court has announced verdicts in three out of nine FIRs so far. At one stage the trial court had deleted Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act from the first information reports in some of the cases and referred the trials to the district and sessions court. But the Lahore High Court, on an appeal of the prosecution, set aside the decision and restored the provision of the anti-terrorism law.

Published in Dawn, September 8th, 2017

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