Policemen escort an armoured vehicle on Friday outside an anti-terrorist court in Lahore carrying Imran Ali, the suspect accused of raping and murdering Zainab Ansari. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: The main accused in Zainab rape and murder case, Imran Ali, has confessed to raping and killing at least six other minor girls in Kasur city of Punjab.

The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) is holding the trial of primary suspect Imran Ali inside Kot Lakhpat Jail,

On Wednesday, other than eight-year-old Zainab Ansari, Imran has confessed to murdering and raping Ayesha Asif, whose body was found on January 7, 2017; Iman Fatima, who was found dead on February 24, 2017; Noor Fatima, found dead on April 11, 2017 and Laiba Saleem, who was found on July 8, 2017. All the abused girls were seven years old. The other victims remain unidentified.

In his confession, Imran also gave details that how he lured minor girls, locations of their rape and dumping sites.

The court adjourned the case hearing after recording statements of a total of 33 witnesses so far, including Zainab’s paternal uncle and five-year-old brother.

The ATC prosecutor Abdul Rauf Wattoo, in previous hearings, had informed the court that evidence has been collected including CCTV footage, DNA test, polygraph test, accused’s clothes and other things. The prosecutor also submitted a list of 55 prosecution witnesses before the court.

After Imran’s confession on Wednesday, his lawyer Mehr Shakeel Multani has withdrawn from the case, saying that his conscience does not permit him to represent a hardened criminal especially after the confession. Prosecutor General Ehtesham Qadir has now assigned Imran a government lawyer, Mohammad Sultan.

Zainab, who was kidnapped from near her aunt’s house in Kasur on January 4, was found dead in a dumpster five days later.

The public outrage on the murder and rape of Zainab led to the arrest of the culprit and resulted in an unprecedented police and judicial inquiry in which almost all law-enforcing and secret agencies participated and a large pool of suspects were probed, besides carrying out DNA profiling of more than 1,100 people.

On Saturday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar concluded the suo motu notice on Zainab’s murder and directed the ATC to give a verdict within seven days after the indictment of the accused as per the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC).