LAHORE: Advocate Chaudhry Muhammad Naeem and his family were acquitted in the murder of their 12-year-old maid, Shazia Masih, by the court on Monday.
The additional district and sessions judge, Ameer Muhammad Khan, after recording statements of the witnesses and in the light of the medical report, held that Shazia had not been murdered but died of natural causes.
In January this year, Defence A police had registered a case against Naeem, a former president of the Lahore Bar Association, and his family on charges of torturing their maid to death. The other accused included Naeem’s wife, son, daughter in-law and sister-in-law.
The death of the maid had resulted in massive protests by the Christian community and human rights activists.
The family of the deceased had accused Advocate Nadeem of torturing her to death. They had also alleged that Naeem had tried to bribe the family in exchange for “keeping their mouths shut”. According to the parents, Naeem had told them that their daughter was in the hospital and they had found their daughter dead when they reached.
The police after registering the case had arrested Naeem. However, after a month of his arrest, Naeem was released on February 13, 2010. Naeem and his family were released on bail after the police did not find any evidence during the 14-day remand.
A report by the nine-member medical board, constituted by the Jinnah Hospital medical superintendent, had also reinvestigated the death of the minor. In its report, the board had said that the postmortem report of Shazia did not indicate that she had been murdered. The board had declared that infection in the wounds and lack of nutrition was what caused Shazia’s death. The board also confirmed that there was no evidence of negligence by Jinnah Hospital doctors or staff in her death.
Bashir Masih, father of the deceased, said that his daughter had been abused by her employer. He said the preliminary medical report had recorded 17 injuries to Shazia’s forehead, cheek and scalp caused by some blunt weapon.
Shazia had been employed by Naeem’s family in 2009, as a housemaid. She had been admitted to Jinnah Hospital in critical condition where she died on January 22, 2010.
The police had refused to register an FIR in the beginning but later did so on the directions of the Punjab chief minister.
The chief minister and Shahbaz Bhatti, the Federal Minister for Minorities, had given Rs500,000 each as compensation to Shazia’s family while vowing justice for the 12-year-old victim.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 23rd, 2010.
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