LAHORE: Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Judge Sajjad Ahmad reserved his decision over the rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab after both the prosecution and defense counsels completed their arguments. During the hearing, defendant Imran Ali continued to say that he was “ashamed of his offence”.
The decision is likely to be announced on February 17. The statements of 32 prosecution witnesses out of a total 56 were recorded and they were also cross examined. The high-powered joint investigation team submitted its 175-page findings report before the court.
During proceedings, the suspect told the court that he was ashamed of the heinous crimes he had committed. He continued to repent at different times of the in-jail trial. Imran had repeated the same words when he confessed to his crime before the judge in Lotlakhpat jail. Before framing charges, the judge asked him if he was aware of the charges he was facing and the defendant initially denied the allegation and decided to face trial.
The police collected DNA samples of 1,187 people from January 12 to January 23 to find the actual accused. Meanwhile, census data of the locality was also collected. The DNA samples of people between the ages of 22 and 40 years were gathered.
The first six streets near Zainab’s house were marked to get DNA samples. On January 20, more than 155 DNA samples were collected and the forensics revealed that the sample of one suspect matched. On January 23, it was confirmed that Imran Ali’s DNA matched that of the victims.
The same day, the accused was arrested and taken into police custody. He was taken to a place where his dress sense and gait were examined. His appearance also matched the sketch made by the department concerned.
On January 24, Imran Ali was first produced before the ATC where the judge handed him over to a joint investigation team (JIT) on a 14-day physical remand. The investigation officer (IO) contended that the DNA of the accused matched that which was taken from Zainab’s body and a polygraph test also established the involvement of the accused in the rape-murder. On January 25, the then chief justice Lahore High Court, Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, ordered that the trial be concluded within seven days of the submission of the challan.
On February 6, the suspect was sent on a three-day physical remand for the rape and murder of seven other minors including Kainat, Laiba, Eman Fatima, Noor Fatima, Tehmina, Ayesha and Asma. On February 8, the remand was extended for another two days as the IO contended that the case must be taken to its logical conclusion. The officer said Imran took Zainab to an under-constructed house where he raped her and killed her. He concluded that the body was later taken to a dumping site near her house.
On February 9, Imran Ali was produced before the ATC where Punjab Prosecutor General Ahtesham Qadir sought the court’s permission to hold the trial in jail due to security reasons. The request was granted and the prosecution submitted a list of 56 witnesses before the court.
Advocate Mehar Shakeel Multani submitted his power of attorney on behalf of the accused; Imran Ali. The court asked the counsel to abandon his other engagements as proceedings would be held on a daily basis. Ultimately, February 10 was fixed as the first date of hearing.
On the first day of trial, the court handed over copies of the challan to the accused’s counsel in a hearing which was held at Kotlakhpat jail and February 12 was fixed as the date for framing charges. On February 12, the judge asked the accused whether he accepted the charges. Imran denied all allegations after which the court indicted him in the case and started regular trial proceedings. The prosecution also presented more than 10 witnesses before the court after the indictment and more witnesses were summoned for February 13.
On February 13, Imran Ali confessed to murdering and raping Ayesha Asif, Eman Fatima, Noor Fatima, Laiba, Zainab Amin and others.
On February 14, the ATC judge recorded the statement of the prime suspect and ordered the lawyers of both sides to come up with arguments. Meanwhile, the counsel of the accused, Mehar Shakeel, decided not to plead the case of Imran Ali after the latter’s confessional statement.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2018.