Lahore: A Pakistani court has upheld the death sentence of a man convicted in the brutal rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab that shook the entire nation and sparked outrage.
In the first trial in the country's history that concluded in four days, an anti-terrorism court last month sentenced to death 23-year-old Imran Ali on four grounds: murdering a child, kidnapping a child, rape of a minor, and committing an unnatural act with a minor.
The Lahore High Court (LHC) yesterday upheld the verdict of the anti-terrorism court that awarded death sentence to Ali. Ali was arrested in January, two weeks after he raped and killed the seven-year-old and threw her body into a garbage dump in Kasur city, some 50 kilometres from Lahore.
The brutal rape and murder of the child had sparked outrage and protests across the country. Her case was the 12th such incident to occur within a 10-kilometre radius in Kasur city over a 12-month period.
The arrest brought to light seven more such crimes and many Pakistanis have demanded he be publicly executed. A division bench of the LHC comprising Justice Sadaqat Ali Khan and Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry dismissed Ali's appeal against his conviction after hearing arguments from the prosecution and the defence counsel.
The convict's lawyer advocate Asad Jamal questioned the admissibility of the DNA findings which the trial court had relied on when handing down the sentence. He said there was a misconception that the DNA test was foolproof evidence. The court could not blindly rely on that evidence.
Ali pleaded he should be treated with leniency because by confessing to his crime he had saved court's time.
Additional Prosecutor General Abdul Samad said the trial court had awarded punishment in the light of the convict's confession, DNA analysis and witnesses who had testified against him.
After hearing the arguments from both sides, the bench dismissed the appeal and upheld the conviction handed down by the trial court. The convict can further appeal against the high court's decision before the Supreme Court.
In another such case in Lodhran district, some 400km from Lahore, an anti-terrorism court in Multan yesterday handed down death sentence to a man for raping and killing a six- year-old girl.