ISLAMABAD – An antiterrorism court in eastern Pakistan handed down on Saturday four death sentences and a life sentence to the man convicted of raping and murdering a seven-year-old girl, a crime that had shocked the entire nation.
Imran Ali, 23, was convicted by the Lahore court on four different accounts and received four death sentences for kidnapping, rape, murder and terrorism, as well as life imprisonment for committing an unnatural act with a minor, the attorney general of Punjab, Syed Ehtesham Qadir, told EFE.
Ali has also been sentenced to seven years in prison for hiding the body of the victim, Zainab Amin, under a garbage heap in the Punjabi city of Kasur, located some 340 kilometers (211 miles) to the southeast of Islamabad.
“He not only confessed to having raped and killed Zainab, but eight other girls as well. Seven are dead and two survived,” Qadir said, noting that the trial lasted only four days.
He added that the execution method was not laid out in the ruling and explained that the defendant had 15 days to appeal the court decision.
“We are satisfied with the verdict,” Muhammed Amin, Zainab’s father, told the media after learning of Ali’s fate. “We want a public execution at the place where he kidnapped Zainab.”
Authorities formally accused Ali on Jan. 23 after taking DNA samples from 1,150 people in the area.
The government of Punjab at the time reported that the sample taken from Ali corresponded 100 percent with the remains found on the victim’s body, and that the defendant confessed the crime after taking a polygraph test.
The corpse of the girl, who had been left in the care of an uncle while her parents went on a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, was found in a dumpster, five days after she disappeared.
The appearance of the body, whose autopsy found evidence of sexual abuse, unleashed a wave of violent protests in which two people died, as well as mournful demonstrations throughout the country.
Moreover, with the whole nation demanding accountability, the police acknowledged that in the last year at least 11 children had been raped and all of them, except two, had died in the area of Kasur.
The same area had already been the center of a juvenile abuse scandal in 2015, when it was discovered that at least 19 children were videotaped and photographed by a network of 17 people, two of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment in 2016.
Pakistan recorded at least 17,862 cases of child sexual abuse between 2013-2017 – with the victims including 10,620 girls and 7,242 boys – according to a joint report by the Ministry of Human Rights and the non-profit Sahil.