LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court, declaring Imran Ali, the man accused of raping and murdering of six-year-old Zainab Amin in Kasur last month guilty of the charges brought against him, on Saturday handed him four counts of the death penalty, one life term, a 7-year jail term and at least Rs2 million in fines.
The verdict was announced at Lahore’s Central Jail in Kot Lakhpat on Saturday.
The four death penalties were for kidnapping, raping and murdering Zainab, and for committing an act of terrorism under Section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act. The life sentence, along with a Rs1 million fine, was handed to Ali for sodomy. Another 7-year jail sentence and Rs1 million fine were imposed for concealing the body in a trash heap.
Prosecutor General Ehtesham Qadir, who spoke to media after the sentencing, said the accused had been given ample chance to defend himself, but he chose to confess his crimes despite being told clearly that any information he divulged would be used against him.
“When he was read the charges, we asked the court to let Imran Ali deliberate the matter for 40 minutes,” the prosecutor said. “The convict was then told that anything he says will be used against him in court, after which he confessed. After this, we also proved the voluntariness of the convict in court and then proceeded to trial.”
Nonetheless, the prosecution chose to submit all its evidence to court so that the case remained airtight. The prosecutor also said this was “the first case to examine scientific evidence” in a case of this nature.
The convict now has 15 days to challenge the verdict and file an appeal.
Zainab’s father, Haji Muhammad Amin, had arrived in Kot Lakhpat to witness the verdict early on Saturday morning.
Security had been increased in and around the central jail and the movement of everyone going in and out of the jail was monitored.
The trial in the case was concluded on Thursday when ATC-I Judge Sajjad Ahmad reserved the verdict after cross examination of all the prosecution witnesses completed by state counsel Muhammad Sultan who was appointed by the trial court to represent the suspect, Imran Ali.
The accused had initially denied guilt when charges were framed against him, and had opted to contest the trial. However, he made a confession soon after and was indicted on Feb 12. On Feb 14, the ATC recorded his complete statement.
Advocate Mehar Shakeel Multani, private counsel for the suspect, had withdrawn his power of attorney after the suspect made confession before the trial court. The lawyer claimed his conscience did not allow him to defend a killer.
Later, the court provided the suspect with state counsel to complete the trial proceedings.
The prosecution had presented at least 56 witnesses against the suspect in addition to forensic evidence, including the DNA and polygraph tests.
The trial court had concluded the proceedings within four days. The Lahore High Court had given seven days for completion of the trial.
A special prosecution team headed by Abdul Rauf Wattoo prosecuted the suspect during the trial. Prosecutor General of Punjab Eihtesham Qadir Shah also monitored the trial proceedings on the instructions of the Supreme Court that had taken a suo motu notice of the Zainab case.
Explaining the reasons behind conducting the trial inside the jail, the PG had said it was done for the suspect’s protection and that the law also permitted such precautions for such cases.