LAHORE: An Anti-Terrorism Court on Wednesday recorded the statement of Imran Ali, the alleged rapist and killer of seven-year old Zainab Amin of Kasur. The court also ordered the defence and prosecution to present their arguments.
ATC-I Judge Sajjad Ahmad held proceedings for nine hours at Kot Lakhpat jail. Advocate Mehr Shakeel Multani, the counsel of Imran Ali, withdrew his power of attorney and said that he was backing off from the case. Muhammad Sultan has been nominated in his place as the counsel for Imran Ali by the Punjab prosecutor general.
The court recorded statements of 33 witnesses and adjourned proceedings till Thursday (today). The court also directed lawyers of both sides to conclude their arguments on the matter. It is likely that the trial court will reserve its verdict on the matter and announce a decision within the next 24 hours. The LHC had already ordered the trial court to conclude the case within seven days.
On Feb 9, police charged the alleged rapist and murderer of the seven-year old Kasur girl of the serial killings of at least seven other minors.
The high-powered joint investigation team submitted its 175-page findings report before an anti-terrorism court. After 13 days of interrogation, Ali was charged with eight rape and murder cases which sparked a countrywide outrage and drew international condemnation.
The police, in its “challan” (investigation report), included 55 witnesses and said that his DNA report matched with the seven incidents, apart from the Zainab Amin case. Zainab was abducted on January 4 in Kasur from near her aunt’s house where she was going to learn Quran. Her body was ultimately recovered from a heap of garbage near her house after year after of her abduction.
Imran’s counsel withdraws
The counsel for Imran Ali has decided not to fight the case after the suspect confessed to the crime.
It was learnt that Imran confessed that he raped and murdered seven year-old Ayesha Asif, Eman Fatima, Noor Fatima, Laiba Saleem and Zainab Amin; all of whom were believed to be seven years old. The man confessed to his crime during the Tuesday hearing of his trial at Kotlakhpat Jail.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Shakeel said Imran had told him that he was being made a scapegoat and was innocent of the crime. The lawyer stated that was the reason that he took interest in the case and wanted to get the suspect acquitted.
When asked where Imran had requested him to plead his case, Shakeel said the suspect approached him to take up the matter when he was first produced before an anti-terrorism court. However, the counsel was reminded that nobody was allowed near Imran on the day he was produced to obtain his remand. To this, the counsel replied that he did not recall whether he was approached by the suspect on the first or the second time he (Imran) appeared before the court.
When asked if he was pressurised in any way, Shakeel replied in the negative, adding his decision to withdraw from the case came from the heart after the accused confessed to the rape and murder of the minor victims. The lawyer also denied the notion that he took up the case to gain media fame or recognition. Responding to a query about pressure from friends, family or the legal fraternity to drop the case, he said nobody compelled him to take such a decision.
Shakeel said he too has daughters and sons, is a part of society, has sympathy for children and felt it would be immoral to fight the case after the confession of his former client. He said the legal profession had moral values and did allow an innocent person to be implicated in a case. He concluded that Imran should be given remarkable punishment in light of the confession.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2018.