LAHORE: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) dismissed the appeal filed by convict Imran Ali who challenged an anti-terrorism court (ATC)’S death sentence, on four counts, for raping and murdering seven-year-old Zainab.
The convict Imran requested the court to set aside the ATC’s verdict which he maintained was made in haste and no legal procedure was adopted. The division bench was being headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan while Justice Shahram Sarwar Chaudhry was its member.
The bench announced the verdict, thus maintaining ATC’s decree and rejected the argument of Imran’s counsel that the ATC had handed in the decision in haste. Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan remarked that no objections should be raised if courts decided cases in time.
The bench also rejected the plea of Imran’s counsel that the convict Imran was not the actual accused. The bench observed it had been proved in the investigation that Imran was the actual accused.
The court also made clear that Imran’s DNA matched from 1,187 suspects and it was only then that he was arrested.
The convict has the right to move towards the Supreme Court to file an appeal against the ATC verdict. On February 17, an anti-terrorism court sentenced Imran to death on four counts with a cumulative punishment of 32-years in prison and a Rs3.1 million fine for raping and killing seven-year-old Zainab.
In his appeal, the convict claimed the trial was conducted in haste and legal requirements were not fulfilled. He asked the court to overturn the ATC’s verdict.
The trial court had awarded its verdict on the basis of forensic, material and circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution in addition to the confession made by the convict.
The brutal rape and murder of Zainab had sparked outrage and protests across the country. Thousands of people took to the streets while two people lost their lives during the protests in Kasur. #JusticeForZainab became the most popular hashtag on the social media and people from all walks of life demanded the immediate arrest and punishment of the culprit.
Zainab went missing on January 4 and her body was found I a heap of garbage near her house on January 9. The public demand for the immediate arrest of the culprit resulted in an unprecedented search in which almost all law enforcement and intelligence agencies took part. A large pool of suspects was probed, besides carrying out DNA profiling of more than 1,100 people.
On Jan 23, police took Imran into custody and secured his 16-day physical remand for investigation. On February 9, police submitted challan to the ATC and charged him with the rape and serial killing of minor girls, including Zainab.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2018.