The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday rejected the appeal of convict Imran Ali against the death sentence handed to him for the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Amin in Kasur earlier this year.
A three-judge bench at the Lahore registry, comprising Justices Asif Saeed Khosa, Manzoor Ahmed Malik and Mansoor Ali Shah, rejected Imran's appeal, upholding the death penalty handed to him by an anti-terrorism court (ATC).
"It has straightaway been noticed by us that when the charge was framed by the trial court against the petitioner, he had pleaded guilty as charged and on that occasion, he had got recorded a detailed confessional statement wherein he had admitted almost every aspect of this case alleged against him," read the judgment in the case.
"There were many pieces of evidence brought on the record by the prosecution which proved every word of the confession to be correct and in that regard we may refer to the CCTV footages, photographs, DNA tests and the medical evidence which had confirmed every aspect of the confession made by the petitioner."
Speaking about the sentences passed by the trial court against Imran Ali, the bench observed that "the crimes committed by the petitioner were absolutely horrendous and barbaric".
"The petitioner had not only deceitfully kidnapped her but had also brutalised her by committing sodomy and rape with her and had then ultimately killed her mercilessly."
The verdict noted that the petitioner had admitted committing similar offences with eight other minor victims and "in that backdrop, he did not deserve any sympathy in the matter of his sentences."
The petition was dismissed and leave to appeal was refused.
Imran had filed the appeal challenging the death sentence handed to him in February, claiming his trial was not fair. He still has the right to seek clemency from President Mamnoon Hussain.
Death sentence on four counts
The ATC had given him four counts of the death penalty, one life term, a 7-year jail term and Rs4.1 million in fines.
The four death penalties were for kidnapping, raping and murdering Zainab, and for committing an act of terrorism punishable under Section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA).
One life sentence, along with a Rs1 million fine, was handed to Imran for committing an "unnatural act". Two death sentences, accompanied by Rs1 million fine each, were imposed on him under the ATA and the Pakistan Penal Code. A 7-year jail sentence and Rs100,000 fine was further awarded for concealing the body in a trash heap.
Additionally, Rs1 million from the penalties imposed will be paid to the victim's heirs, the judge had ruled.
Imran faces further charges in the cases of at least seven other children he attacked — five of whom were murdered — in a spate of assaults that had stoked fears a serial child killer was on the loose.
He has confessed to all eight attacks, including the death of Zainab, AFP reported earlier.
Imran had appealed to the Lahore High Court against the sentence but his appeal was dismissed. He subsequently approached the Supreme Court.
Zainab's rape and murder 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 12th such incident to occur within a 10 kilometre radius in the city over a 12-month period.
The heinous nature of the crime had seen immediate riots break out in Kasur — in which two people were killed — while #JusticeforZainab became a rallying cry for an end to violence against children.
The Punjab government had declared the arrest of prime suspect Imran Ali on January 23.