An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Thursday reserved its judgement in the rape and murder case of six-year-old Kasur girl Zainab Amin.

The verdict will be announced on Saturday, Feb 17.

Zainab's rape and murder last month had sparked outrage and protests across the country after the six-year-old, who went missing on January 4, was found dead in a trash heap in Kasur on Jan 9. Her case was the twelfth such incident to occur within a 10 kilometre radius in the city over a 12-month period.

The Punjab government had declared the arrest of prime suspect Imran Ali on January 23.

ATC-I Judge Sajjad Ahmad, who presided over Ali's trial — held daily at Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail starting Feb 10 — had indicted the accused in the Zainab rape and murder case earlier this week.

The trial court recorded testimonies of 36 prosecution witnesses. A special team of prosecutors tried the suspect.

The accused had initially denied guilt when charges were framed against him, and had opted to contest the trial. However, he made a confession soon after and was indicted on Feb 12. On Feb 14, the ATC recorded his complete statement.

Before the commencement of Wednesday's proceedings, Prosecutor General of Punjab Eihtesham Qadir Shah had provided the suspect with a state lawyer after his private defence counsel withdrew power of attorney following the confession made by Ali.

Advocate Mehar Shakeel Multani had told reporters outside the jail that he could never think of defending a criminal and had therefore decided to withdraw his power of attorney. He said the suspect had misled him about his innocence.

Ali is also suspected of involvement in at least nine cases of rape and murder of minors in Kasur.

Police had confirmed on January 13 that DNA samples collected from the crime scene pointed towards the involvement of her rapist and murderer in at least seven similar cases in the district.

Various quarters have called for the public execution of the perpetrator of the crime.

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