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June 13, 2018

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Zainab rape-cum-murder case: SC dismisses convict’s appeal, maintains death sentence

LAHORE: The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed the appeal of convict Imran Ali against his death penalty awarded in the rape-cum-murder case of seven-year-old Zainab Amin of Kasur and maintained his death sentence.

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A three-member bench headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa passed the order at the Supreme Court Lahore Registry. Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah were the other members of the bench.

“It has straightaway been noticed by us that when the charge was framed by the trial court against the petitioner, he had pleaded guilty as charged and on that occasion he had got recorded a detailed confessional statement wherein he had admitted almost every aspect of this case alleged against him,” the bench held.

The bench also held: “apart from pleading guilty to the charge and making a confession by the petitioner there are many pieces of evidence brought on the record by the prosecution which proved every word of the confession to be correct and in that regard we may refer to the CCTV footages, photographs, DNA tests and the medical evidence which have confirmed every aspect of the confession made by the petitioner. All such pieces of evidence have convinced us that the confession made by the petitioner was not only voluntary but also true”.

On February 17, 2018, an anti-terrorism court sentenced to death on four counts along with a cumulative punishment including 32-year imprisonment and Rs4.1 million fine to Imran Ali convicted of raping and killing seven-year old Zainab Amin of Kasur. Later, the convict challenged his conviction before the Lahore High Court but the high court upheld the trial court’s decision and dismissed the appeal. Amin Ansari, father of deceased child girl Zainab, was also present there in the courtroom.

The Supreme Court bench held that in his statement recorded under Section 342, CrPC, Imran Ali once again admitted to almost all the vital pieces of evidence produced by the prosecution against him as correct and had once again admitted his guilt unreservedly.

The judges said they observed that even in his arguments addressed before the trial court, he had only prayed for some leniency to be shown to the petitioner in the matter of his sentence and no argument was advanced before the trial court challenging the merits of the prosecution’s case against him. The bench further observed that in his appeal before the LHC, he prayed again for leniency in the sentence, without questioning his convictions recorded by the trial court.

The court stated that Imran Ali not only deceitfully kidnapped Zainab but also brutalised her by committing sodomy and rape with her and ultimately killed her mercilessly. The bench held that the petition is, therefore, dismissed and leave to appeal is refused.

In his appeal, Imran Ali had said three persons including Hafiz Sohail Ahmad Qadri, Awais Ahmad Afridi and Amir Manzoor were also the co-accused. He said he told this fact to the JIT head. He said was also offered Rs2.5 million to confess after which his sentence would be reduced to only two to three years imprisonment and he confessed the guilt for this greed, he said.

Advocate Aftab Bajwa, the lawyer hired by Zainab’s father, said he was approached not to appear in the case but he defied the warnings. The lawyer said he had been saying from the day one that these three people must be brought to justice but no one paid attention.

On January 4, Zainab Amin, seven-year old girl, was allegedly abducted by Ali Imran — the accused who was living in her neighbourhood in Kasur and on January 9, her body was recovered from a heap of garbage in the same locality. The accused is alleged to have tormented other children in a similar way. The other victim girls include Kainat, Laiba, Eman Fatima, Noor Fatima, Ayesha and Asma.

The public demand for immediate arrest of the culprit resulted in an unprecedented search in which almost all law enforcement and secret agencies took part and a large pool of suspects was probed, besides carrying out DNA profiling of more than 1100 people.

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