LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) Saturday handed four death sentences to a man charged with raping and murdering Zainab, in a case that shocked the country and sparked major riots Kasur district of Punjab.
Imran Ali, 24, was on trial for the killing of seven-year-old Zainab Fatima Ameen last month.
He faces further charges in the cases of at least seven other children attacked in the Punjab city -- five of whom were murdered -- in a spate of assaults that had stoked fears a serial child killer was on the loose. He has confessed to all eight attacks, including the death of Zainab.
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 Ihtesham Qadir said after a special anti-terrorism court passed its judgement.
The prosecutors said he received further life imprisonment and fines totalling 3.2 million rupees for additional charges of hiding his victim´s body.
One million rupees of the fine would be given in compensation to Zainab´s family, public prosecutor Abdul Rauf Wattoo told AFP.
The trial was held in Lahore´s Kot Lakhpat prison for security reasons. Journalists were stopped 500 meters from the prison and only relatives of the victim were allowed in court for the hearing.
Strict security was deployed outside the prison at the time of announcement of the judgement and every visitor was physically checked.
Zainab´s mother Nusrat Bibi demanded execution of the death penalties be carried out in public.
"I want him to be hanged publicly at the place where he took Zainab," she told reporters after the verdict.
Zainab´s murder last month sparked outrage across Pakistan, with riots erupting in Kasur as thousands swarmed police stations and set fire to politicians´ homes, while Pakistanis across the nation took to social media demanding action.
The killing sparked calls for the public execution of Ali after officials said his DNA had been recovered from the scene of the crime and matched samples from similar cases.
At least twelve cases of rape and murder have been recorded in the Kasur area in the past two years.
Ali confessed to eight cases, but it is not clear if the four others are linked.
According to the victim´s father Ameen Ansari, Ali -- who lived nearby -- had taken part in the initial protests that erupted after Zainab´s body was discovered.
The court reserved the verdict on Thursday after conclusion of arguments by the parties.
ATC-I Judge Sajjad Ahmad conducted the proceedings of the trial on daily basis in compliance with the directions of the Lahore High Court at Kot Lakhpat Jail.
The prosecution team presented 56 witnesses against the accused Imran Ali and claimed that he was guilty of the crime in the light of evidence, including the DNA report.
The prosecution also submitted forensic reports of videos and other materials to support its case.
The prosecution team comprising Abdul Rauf Wattoo, Abid Waqar Bhatti, Hafiz Asghar and Farah Faiz argued the case whereas Prosecutor General Punjab Ehtesham Qadir also remained present in the court during the trial.
On Wednesday, the prosecution department provided the accused with a state lawyer after his private defence counsel withdrew his power of attorney, following the confession, made by Imran Ali.
Advocate Mehar Shakeel Multani told reporters outside the jail that he could never think of defending a criminal and had, therefore, decided to withdraw his power of attorney.
He said the suspect had misled him about his innocence.
Initially, the accused had denied the charges and opted to contest the trial at the time of framing of charges.
However, he made a confession soon after.
The accused was indicted on February 12, whereas the court recorded his complete statement on February 14.
Seven-year-old Zainab was kidnapped on January 4 from near her aunt''s house in Kasur.
Her body was discovered five days later from a garbage heap.
The post-mortem report revealed that she had been raped and murdered.
The police had arrested the suspect Imran Ali with the help of a DNA report.
Imran Ali is also suspected of involvement in at least eight other cases of rape and murder of minor girls in Kasur.
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