LAHORE: An antiterrorism court on Saturday sentenced Imran Ali, the ‘serial killer’ of Kasur, to death on four counts in Zainab case.
“The suspect has been given death sentence on charges of kidnap, rape, murder and terrorism,” Prosecutor General of Punjab Ehtesham Qadir Shah told journalists in front of the Kot Lakhpat central jail, where the four-day trial of the suspect concluded on Feb 15.
He said the trial judge had announced the verdict in the presence of the convict and the parents of the seven-year-old child victim — Zainab.
The court hands down capital punishment on four counts
Dismissing the criticism about this being an unfair trial, Mr Shah stressed that the court had fulfilled all legal requirements and had provided the convict adequate opportunity to defend himself. Even though the convict had confessed to having committed the crime, he said, the court still conducted a trial on the basis of witnesses and material and forensic evidence, which included the DNA test that had identified Ali as the culprit in the first place.
Initially, the convict had denied the charges and his private counsel had cross-examined around 20 prosecution witnesses during the trial, he said, adding that the court later provided Ali state counsel after the lawyer he had privately engaged withdrew his power of attorney.
Mr Shah termed the verdict the first of its kind in Pakistan’s judicial history because it was based entirely on scientific evidence and termed it a welcome step.
The prosecutor general said that the convict could file an appeal against the verdict in the Lahore High Court, and if it was dismissed, he could turn to the Supreme Court to challenge the sentence. Finally, he said, there was the option of filing a plea for mercy with the president of Pakistan.
The convict’s trial in other eight rape-and-murder cases would commence after completion of investigation.
Haji Amin, the victim’s father, expressed satisfaction over the conviction and reiterated his demand that the convict be executed publicly. Zainab’s mother Nusrat Bibi also put forward the same demand.
Judge Sajjad Ahmad had handed down the death sentence on four counts under Sections 364-A (kidnapping a person under the age of 14), 376 (rape), 302-B (murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 (act of terror) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
The court also sentenced him to life imprisonment under Section 377 (unnatural offences) and a seven-year jail term under Section 201 (dumping a dead body) of the PPC.
The court fined the convict Rs1 million which he would have to pay to the victim’s family, in addition to a collective fine of Rs3.2m imposed under various sections of the law.
“The 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 Lahore High Court,” the verdict said.
Little Zainab went missing on Jan 4, shortly after she left home to go to a neighbour’s house where she studied Quran. Her parents were away in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah when the incident took place. After relatives reported her missing, the police recovered her body on Jan 9 from a heap of garbage.
The incident sparked unrest and massive protests in Kasur district resulting in violent clashes with the police.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and the Lahore High Court had taken suo motu notices of the incident and ordered a speedy trial of the culprit. Following one of the largest manhunts in the province, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced the arrest of Imran Ali at a press conference in Lahore.
Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2018