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Pakistan officials oppose public execution of Zainab’s killer

Inspector-general of prisons in Balochistan said that amending the law for the sake of one case would be unfavourable for society

Gulf News

Islamabad: Pakistani legislators, officials and religious leaders on Wednesday unanimously rejected the demand for the public execution of Imran Ali, the convicted rapist and murderer of eight-year-old girl Zainab Ameen.

The issue of the public executions under Pakistani law was discussed by the member of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice in a meeting chaired by Senator Javed Abbasi.

The meeting was also attended by Law Minister Chaudhry Mahmoud Bashir Virk, the law secretary, representatives of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII), and the Prisons Department.

When Senator Abbasi enquired if the Parliament would need to introduce an amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code or whether the addition of a rule would be required in order to carry out public hangings, Senator Rahman Malek reminded the committee that the Supreme Court had forbidden public hangings.

“We cannot violate the Supreme Court’s order by hanging [the convict] in public,” he said.

Law Minister Virk also pointed out that a public execution would be considered a violation of human rights.

“Emotions aside, steps that are in conflict with the constitution should be avoided,” he said.

The inspector-general of prisons in Balochistan said that amending the law for the sake of one case would be unfavourable for society.

“We cannot punish the entire society by hanging a person in public,” he insisted.

The CII also opposed the suggestion to carry out the death sentence in public and said that the execution must be carried out inside a jail.

In his earlier comments, CII Chairman Dr Qibla Ayaz advised against introducing an amendment in the law seeking the public hanging of child kidnappers.

However, at the meeting, the body’s suggestion to broadcast the sentence on electronic media was opposed by senators from all provinces.

Meanwhile, the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday also rejected a petition calling for Ali’s public execution.

The division bench, headed by Justice Sadaqat Ali, observed that Ali, who was awarded four death penalties by an anti-terrorism court, has yet not exhausted three forums of appeal against his conviction. He can’t be executed until the rejection of his appeals by all the forums, it added.

The petitioner argued that the high court could issue orders for hanging the convict in public as there was no need to make an amendment to the law for public executions in the country.

On February 17, an anti-terrorism court found Imran Ali guilty of the murder and rape of seven-year-old Zainab Ameen and handed him four counts of the death penalty, one life term, a 7-year jail term and Rs4.1 million (Dh29,840) in fines. The court conducted the swiftest trial in Pakistan’s judicial history and concluded proceedings within four days.

The father of the victim, Ameen Ansari, expressed satisfaction with the verdict but demanded a public hanging of the accused.

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