The lawyer representing the victim of the F-9 park rape case alleged on Friday that the two suspects were gunned down by Islamabad police in a “fake encounter”, terming the incident to be an “extrajudicial killing”.
The brazen attack in a park in the capital shocked the nation and renewed questions over the safety of women in the country.
On Thursday, however, Islamabad police claimed that two youngsters killed during a police ‘encounter’ at D-12 police picket were involved in the rape incident. Police also said that both the suspects were wanted for other crimes while one of the suspects was an absconder in a murder case.
In a press conference in Islamabad, Advocate Imaan Zainab Mazari-Hazir and rights activist Dr Farzana Bari demanded an inquiry into the suspects’ killing.
Mazari-Hazir said that her client had identified the suspects on February 15 (Wednesday). She said that police had called the victim at around 4:30pm on Wednesday to the Crime Investigation Agency’s (CIA) police station in I-9 to identify the suspects. Mazari-Hazir added that the victim had identified the suspects before her lawyers reached the police station at 4:55pm.
“I can say with 100 per cent surety that the two suspects who were arrested were in police custody on Feb 15 in the CIA’s police station in I-9,” the lawyer asserted.
She further said that she messaged a police official, who she identified as SSP Maria, that since the suspects were in police custody, it was expected that their DNA tests would be conducted. “She responded with a thumbs up. She acknowledged my message.”
She said that police had a “strange reaction” even though both the suspects were in their custody. “They first tweeted that they had traced the suspects. Then they deleted that tweet. Then they said they are close to arresting them. And then they issued a fake encounter story which is 100pc a lie and is baseless. They (the suspects) were in custody and were killed in custody.”
Mazari-Hazir questioned what the police were “trying to hide” and why they acted to prevent the suspects from going to trial. “When they [the suspects] were asked in custody whether they were afraid of the police, they clearly said no.”
Addressing the capital police chief, she said: “In such a high-profile story, a whole encounter story could not have been concocted without your permission and your sanction. So, you are answerable.”
She further said that if the victim was harmed in anyway, then the Islamabad IG, the capital’s police force and the head of the special investigation team would be at fault.
She further contended that after the alleged encounter took place, the victim went to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (Pims) to identify the bodies. She reiterated that her client had already identified the suspects on Feb 15, stating that the process had taken place twice.
“They were in police custody, they (the police) murdered them. This wasn’t an encounter […] We strongly condemn extrajudicial killings as civil society, as a lawyer, as a human. No law allows you to become the judge, jury, and executioner.”
Mazari-Hazir said that on Feb 15 she had asked SSP Maria to conduct the DNA testing of the suspects. “So far we don’t know [if it was done] but what we understand from the little information available is that maybe it was conducted at Pims after the act of extra-judicial killing. We don’t know.”
Meanwhile, Bari expressed shock at the way the victim’s identity was revealed. She further alleged that the victim’s medical test were not properly conducted. “I was raising these issues with the police but they stopped calling me after two meetings.”
The activist reiterated that the rape victim had identified the suspects prior. Bari said the survivor was 100pc sure that the suspects were the attackers.
She added that the suspects were hardened criminals and had committed at least 50 rapes in Islamabad’s F-9 and G-9 areas. “Police also found their criminal record. They had committed a murder during a robbery. They were hardcore criminals.”
She went on to say that it was surprise when police claimed that the suspects had been killed in an encounter. “Since there is mistrust between the police and citizens, we thought officials must have let them go after reaching some kind of arrangement.”
She said that the main purpose of today’s press conference was to “expose the culture of extrajudicial killings”. “There is a judicial process. Be it a terrorist or a hard core criminal. Their crime should be established in the court of law.”
On Feb 2, a first information report (FIR) was registered at Islamabad’s Margalla police station under Section 376 (punishment for rape). According to the complainant, she had gone to the park along with a male colleague when two men stopped them at gunpoint and took them towards a jungle.
The victim then offered the men to take any belongings if they wanted but they “beat her” so that she should not make a sound and separated her from her colleague, the FIR stated.
She added when one of the men asked what her relationship with the colleague was, she answered in a “loud voice”, upon which he slapped her and threatened that he would “bring six to seven more people and you have no inkling of what they would do with you”.
The man said he would frisk her, to which she replied “go ahead, I don’t have a single penny”.
The suspect then ordered the victim to “be quiet, shook my hair aggressively, shoved me to the ground and committed a vile act”, the statement said.
It added that the armed man struck her leg with the gun when she tried to grab it and “threw my clothes at a distance so I could not run away”.
The victim said the other man, who was called by the first suspect and was “not of much age”, committed the same “wrong act” even though she had pleaded him not to and had offered money.
Afterwards, he asked the victim about what she does for a living and told her to “not come to the park at this time”, the FIR said.
It was further stated that the suspects “returned everything and even gave them a Rs1,000 note to not tell anyone anything”. “They then asked us to sit down and themselves ran away towards the jungle.”
The FIR highlighted that the victim was taken to the Pakistan Institute Of Medical Sciences hospital where her medical check-up was conducted.