3 men sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012 Kohistan video scandal case

Published September 5, 2019
The case came to light in 2012 when reports emerged that an online video of a young man dancing before a group of girls had led to the murder of several people. — Screengrab/File
The case came to light in 2012 when reports emerged that an online video of a young man dancing before a group of girls had led to the murder of several people. — Screengrab/File
Police officials are seen at the court where the verdict was announced. — Photo by Umar Bacha
Police officials are seen at the court where the verdict was announced. — Photo by Umar Bacha

A sessions court in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Thursday awarded life imprisonment to three people in the infamous 2012 Kohistan video scandal.

District and Sessions Judge Safiullah Jan of Kolai-Palas Kohistan announced the verdict in Bisham amid strict security arrangements, sentencing Mohammad Umar Khan, Saeer and Sabir to life in prison for killing three women in the name of 'honour', according to public prosecutor Attaullah Khan.

The three convicted men are relatives of the slain girls. Mohammad Umar is the brother of deceased Begum Jaan, Saeer is the father of Bazigha and Sabir is the father of Seerin Jaan.

Read: Murders in Paradise

The convicts were arrested last year by Mansehra police.

All three of them had confessed to the murders before the court, lawyer Saboor Khan, who represented the plaintiff's family, told DawnNewsTV.

Five other accused were acquitted of the charges against them. They include: Mehboobur Rehman, Abdur Rashid, Shamsur Rehman, Sarfaraz, and Habibullah.

All the accused were brought to court from the jail amid strict security arrangments made by both Shangla and Kolai-Palas Kohistan police.

Two of the three men convicted in the case are escorted by police. — Photo: Umar Bacha
Two of the three men convicted in the case are escorted by police. — Photo: Umar Bacha

The security inside and outside the court was also on high alert during the announcement of the verdict. The only two journalists present to cover the announcement were not allowed inside the courtroom.

In May 2012, a grainy video of four women singing and clapping and two boys dancing had gone viral in the ultra-conservative and remote district of Kohistan. Three of the women from the video clip were then allegedly murdered on a jirga’s orders.

The video was filmed at the home of Afzal Kohistani, who went on to expose the honour killing murders after his own three brothers were killed in Palas Kohistan. Afzal continued his struggle through various courts to have the killers of the women and his brothers punished for years, until he himself was shot dead in Abbottabad in March this year.

Afzal's younger brother, Bin Yasir, who was one of the two men seen dancing in the video, then continued to fight the cases on his behalf and appeared in all court hearings.

Commenting after today's verdict, Bin Yasir told Dawn via telephone that he would be happier if the court had convicted all the alleged killers of his brothers and the women.

Faizur Rehman, a nephew of Afzal who was the sole person present at the court hearing, said they would challenge the court verdict.

“I am not happy with the court decision; we will challenge the acquittal of the five accused in the high court because they were involved in the murder of the girls due to which my four uncles were killed," he said, adding that their family was also receiving threats from the rival Azad Khel tribe and that their lives were at risk.

The video thus ended up claiming seven lives, including that of the three women, and four men, including Afzal Kohistani and his three brothers.

The case was taken up by the Supreme Court on at least three occasions and the killing of the women was established years later.


Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the three men were convicted for the murder of five women. They were, in fact, convicted for the murder of three women.

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