An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday handed Imran Ali — who is currently incarcerated and on death-row for the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Amin — the death penalty on 12 more counts for the rape and murder of three other girls.

Ali, a resident of Kasur, was involved in at least nine incidents of rape-cum-murder of minors, including Zainab, which he had confessed to during her murder investigation.

The verdicts for the cases of all three minor girls were announced today by special administrative judge Sheikh Sajjad Ahmed of the ATC after listening to the final arguments presented by the counsels.

In all three cases, Ali was found guilty under sections 364-A (kidnapping or abducting a person under the age of fourteen), 376 (3) (rape of minor), 302-B (punishment for qatl-i-amd) of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7(a) (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997.

According to the judgements, Ali has been sentenced to death on a total of 12 counts (4 counts for each victim), fined Rs6 million (Rs2m per victim) and ordered to pay Rs3m (Rs1m per victim) as compensation to the victims' families. In case of failure to pay the fine or compensation, he will have to undergo another six months imprisonment.

The first information reports of all three cases were registered in different months of 2017. The ages of the three victims were five, seven and eight.

Zainab's rape and murder earlier this year 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 January 9.

Her case was the twelfth 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 Ali, the prime suspect, on January 23.

On June 12, the Supreme Court rejected Ali's appeal against the death sentence handed to him for the rape and murder of Zainab, noting 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".

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.

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