Pakistani child killer sentenced to death

Seven-year-old Zainab was kidnapped from near her aunt's house in Kasur on January 4 and was found dead in a garbage heap five days later.

Ali was handed four separate death sentences after being convicted of the rape and murder of Zainab, as well as terrorism charges, prosecutor general of Punjab province Ihtesham Qadir said after a special anti-terrorism court passed its judgment.

The Lahore Anti-Terrorism Court had earlier charged the 23-year-old in the rape and murder case of seven other girls last week apart from Zainab.

Residents of the area have said the murder was the 12th such incident in a year.

The court sentenced Imran to death for kidnapping, for rape, for murder and under Section 7-ATA.

"When he was read the charges, we asked the court to let Imran Ali deliberate the matter for 40 minutes", the prosecutor said.

He said Ali will be tried for rest of the cases later.

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The heinous nature of the crime had seen immediate riots break out in Kasur - in which two people were killed - while #JusticeforZainab became a rallying cry for an end to violence against children.

State prosecutor Ehtesham Qadir said Imran Ali, who had pleaded guilty during the five-day trial, was in the courtroom for the verdict.

Law enforcement agencies came under mounting pressure to find the killer of Zainab and other children in the region. "The suspect had also confessed to the killing of eight other girls".

On January 22, accused's family was taken into custody by rangers for investigation while Punjab CM along with Zainab Ansar's parents held press conference, lauding the performance of police department for nabbing the suspect.

Police also identified that the killer was victim's neighbors and the CCTV footage of the same day showed the girl calmly walking with a man.

Authorities have also uncovered that there were several complaints about missing children since 2015 in Kasur. So far at least two people have been convicted in that case.

A total of 1,764 cases of child abuse were reported across Pakistan in the first six months of 2017, according to Sahil, an organization that works on child protection.

  • Sonia Alvarado