A sessions court in Islamabad on Thursday sentenced Zahir Jaffer to death for the murder of Noor Mukadam. The court also found him guilty of rape and handed him 25 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs200,000.
Zahir's household staff Mohammad Iftikhar and Mohammad Jan — both co-accused in the case — were sentenced to 10 years in jail, while all others, including Zahir's parents and TherapyWorks employees, were acquitted.
Additional Sessions Judge Ata Rabbani announced the verdict, which was reserved on Tuesday following months of hearings.
Zahir, his father Zakir Jaffer, mother Asmat Adamjee and other suspects were present in the court when the verdict was announced.
According to the court's short order, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, Zahir has been sentenced to death under Section 302(b) (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The death sentence, however, is subject to confirmation by the Islamabad High Court.
He has also been sentenced to 25 years of rigorous imprisonment along with a fine of Rs200,000 under Section 376 (punishment for rape) of the PPC.
The court also ordered Zahir to pay Rs0.5 million to Noor's legal heir. In case of non-payment, the amount would be realised as arrears of land revenue and in case of non-realisation, he would have to undergo six months simple imprisonment.
Additionally, he has been sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs100,000 for kidnapping in order to murder (Section 364) and one year of rigorous imprisonment for wrongful confinement (Section 342).
The imprisonment sentences would run concurrently with the benefit of Section 382(B) (period of detention to be considered while awarding sentence of imprisonment) of the Criminal Procedure Code granted to the convict.
Iftikhar and Mohammad Jan, meanwhile, were each sentenced to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs100,000 for abetting (Section 109); 10 years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs100,000 for confining a kidnapped person (Section 368); one month of simple imprisonment for omitting information from a public servant (Section 176) and seven years of rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs100,000 for concealing a plan to commit an offence punishable with death or life imprisonment (Section 118).
Their sentences will also run concurrently and they, too, were granted the benefit of Section 382(B) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
Noor, 27, was found murdered at Jaffar's residence in the capital's upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20 last year. A first information report (FIR) was registered the same day against Zahir Jaffer — the primary accused who was arrested from the site of the murder — under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on the complaint of the victim's father, Shaukat Mukadam, who is a retired diplomat.
'Exemplary punishment is victory for justice,' says Noor's father
Noor's father Shaukat Mukadam hailed the court's verdict and thanked the media for keeping the matter "alive".
"An exemplary punishment has been given to the primary accused," he said while speaking to the media outside the court. He termed the verdict as a "victory" for the court and justice.
"Everyone was praying [for justice]. The whole nation and world were with us," he added.
Ahead of the verdict today, Zahir was brought to the court along with the other co-accused — Zakir Jaffer (Zahir's father), Iftikhar (watchman) and Jan Mohammad (gardener).
The lawyers, complainant Shaukat and other co-accused who were out on bail, including Therapy Works employees and Zahir's mother Asmat Adamjee, were also present in court.
After the court marked the attendance of Therapy Works employees, the judge ordered for the courtroom to be emptied, saying he needed to speak to the defendants. The four detained accused, including Zahir, were later sent back from the court once the judge was done with them.
After the FIR was registered in the case and Zahir was arrested, his parents and household staff were also taken into custody by police on July 24 over allegations of "hiding evidence and being complicit in the crime". They were made a part of the investigation based on Noor's father's statement.
In his complaint, Shaukat had stated that he had gone to Rawalpindi on July 19 to buy a goat for Eidul Azha, while his wife had gone out to pick up clothes from her tailor. When he had returned home in the evening, the couple found their daughter Noor absent from their house in Islamabad.
They had found her cellphone number switched off and started a search for her. Sometime later, Noor had called her parents to inform them that she was travelling to Lahore with some friends and would return in a day or two, according to the FIR.
The complainant said he had later received a call from Zahir, whose family were their acquaintances. The suspect had informed Shaukat that Noor was not with him, the FIR said.
At around 10pm on July 20, the victim's father had received a call from Kohsar police station, informing him that Noor had been murdered.
Police had subsequently taken the complainant to Zahir's house in Sector F-7/4 where he discovered that his "daughter has been brutally murdered with a sharp-edged weapon and beheaded", according to the FIR.
Shaukat, who identified his daughter's body, has sought the maximum punishment under the law against Zahir for allegedly murdering his daughter.
Police later said that Zahir had confessed to killing Noor while his DNA test and fingerprints also showed his involvement in the murder.
Six officials of Therapy Works, whose employees had visited the site of the murder before police, were also nominated in the case and were indicted with six others, including Zahir Jaffer's parents, in October.
Talking to the media after the last hearing, Noor's father, Shaukat Mukadam, had said that he sought "maximum punishment" for the accused and reposed his confidence in Judge Ata Rabbani.
"He has conducted a fair and transparent trial," Shaukat had said of the judge's handling of the case, adding that he was "completely satisfied" with the investigation despite "some ups and downs" as he also commended the police for operating "under pressure".
"It was a difficult time but I had full faith in my daughter. Noor Mukadam was a good girl and she was not involved in anything wrong," Shaukat said.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly named one of the convicted household staff as Jameel when in fact his name is Mohammad Jan. The error is regretted.