LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) sentenced on Monday two men to life imprisonment for sexually abusing minors in a series of crimes that came to be known as the Kasur child abuse scandal.
In addition to sentencing them for life, ATC Judge Chaudhry Muhammad Ilyas ordered convicts Haseem Amir and Faizan Majeed to pay Rs300,000 as compensation to their victims. In case of default, the convicts will face additional jail terms.
Haseem and Faizan were awarded life imprisonment under sections 377 (unnatural offences), 293 (sale of obscene objects to a young person) and 385 (threatening a person with injury to commit extortion) of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
During proceedings of the case, the brother of one of Haseem and Faizan’s victims recanted his statement against them following pressure from the two. However, the victim in question did not sway from his stance, leading to Haseem and Faizan being convicted.
The prosecution also produced evidence, such as the results of photogrammetric testing of video clips Haseem and Faizan made while abusing their victims. The court accepted the photogrammetric test results as the main evidence in the case.
The five-member joint investigation team (JIT) constituted to probe the Kasur scandal also confirmed that the two accused had sodomised 19 victims. However, the team said that after investigation 31 FIRs, interviewing over 400 people and examining 47 video clips and 72 photographs in light of the photogrammetric tests, it did not find any evidence that of the accused being involved in extortion or posting the videos and pictures on the internet for monetary gain. The JIT will submit a final report to the Lahore High Court on November 16.
The JIT presented a chargesheet against a total of 17 suspects. Ten of them were charged with sodomy and seven with other offenses, like criminal intimidation and fraud. The team recommended dropping eight cases which it said were fake.
The Kasur scandal, which broke in the media in August 2015, revealed that that gang of over 25 criminals had sexually abused and filmed more than 280 minors, and had blackmailed the victims’ parents into paying hundreds of thousands of rupees by threatening to release the videos online.
The police, subsequently, identified the perpetrators through the video clips and registered more than 20 cases under different sections of the penal code against them.
The sentences announced by the court of Monday were part of the verdict of only two of the cases pertaining to the Kasur scandal. Others are still pending with ATC judge Ilyas, who, because of the large number of cases pertaining to the scandal, is hearing them on rotational basis.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 19th, 2016.