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'Child killer' in Pakistan gets four death sentences

A young girl wearing a pink jacket and colourful shirt

The country's special anti-terrorism court in Lahore convicted Mohammad Imran Ali after Zainab Ansari's body was found in a trash dump in Kasur district near Lahore, in Punjab province, on January 9, two days after she disappeared. Her death brought rampaging mobs onto the streets in search of her killer.

Ali was handed four separate death sentences after being convicted of the rape and murder of the six-year-old, as well as terrorism charges, prosecutor general of Punjab province Ihtesham Qadir said after a special anti-terrorism court passed its judgment. He's also facing charges in the cases of at least seven other children attacked, five of whom he murdered.

Muhammad Amin, father of Kasur's seven-year-old Zainab, has demanded that the prime suspect in the rape and murder case of his daughter should be stoned to death. The court gave orders for sentencing Imran Ali Naqshbandi to death, four times.

During the court proceedings, several witnesses, including Zainab's uncle and her neighbours, testified against Imran Ali.

Ehtesham Qadir, the public prosecutor, said while Imran has the right to appeal, the verdict can not be challenged since Imran confessed to eight similar attacks, including Zainab's. According to reports, the lawyer of Imran withdrew his case after he confessed to his crimes during the hearing which took place amid tight security. Ali has reportedly confessed to all the eight attacks.

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Imran Ali has been charged with kidnapping, for rape, murder, and under Section 7-ATA. The prosecutor also said this was "the first case to examine scientific evidence" in a case of this nature.

Law enforcement agencies came under mounting pressure to find the killer of Zainab and other children in the region.

After her abduction, a CCTV footage showed her walking with a stranger near the Peerowala Road.

In the same district, Kasur, there have been complaints of a number of missing children since 2015 when authorities uncovered what they said was a paedophile ring linked to a prominent local family.

Almost 10 cases of child abuse a day are reported in Pakistan, according to Sahil, an organisation that works on child protection.

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