ATC reserves verdict in Motorway gang-rape case

LAHORE (APP): An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Thursday reserved its verdict in the Motorway gang-rape case, on completion of arguments of parties.
The court will announce the verdict on March 20, Saturday.
ATC Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta conducted the case hearing at Camp Jail, wherein the jail authorities produced the accused, Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali, prime accused and co-accused. Deputy Prosecutor General Hafiz Asghar and Deputy Prosecutor General Waqar Bhatti represented the prosecution, whereas advocates Sher Gull Qureshi and Qasim Arain appeared on behalf of the accused.
During the proceedings, the prosecutors argued that the accused gang-raped the victim woman at gunpoint and solid evidence was available against them. They argued that the accused were arrested after their DNA matched with the samples collected from crime scene whereas the victim woman also identified them during the identification parade, held in the presence of a magistrate. They also submitted that co-accused Shafqat admitted the crime before a judicial magistrate. They pleaded with the court for handing down strict punishment to the accused as they committed a heinous crime.
However, the defence counsel opposed the plea, saying that the prosecution failed to prove presence of accused Shafqat on the crime scene whereas the identification parade of Shafqat Ali was held after 22 days of his arrest. They submitted the the statement of accused, Shafqat, was recorded after a delay of one month and eighteen days whereas he was forced to get record his statement. The defence also questioned the authenticity of the identification parade while raising various questions on the process adopted during it.
The court, after hearing arguments of the parties, reserved its verdict till March 20.
The prosecution presented 37 witnesses, including the victim woman, during the trial.
The Gujjarpura police had filed a challan against the accused, wherein they were declared guilty. The police had requested the court for awarding strict punishment to the accused as sufficient evidence was available against them.
On September 9, the accused – Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali, allegedly raped a woman at gunpoint in Gujjarpura area while she was waiting for help on the Motorway after her car ran out of fuel. An FIR of the incident was lodged with the Gujjarpura police under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code and the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).