Child killer, rapist sentenced to death in Pakistan

In this Jan. 18, 2018 photo, Mohammed Amin shows a photo of his seven year-old daughter, Zainab Ansari in Kasur, Pakistan. (AP)
Updated 17 February 2018
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Child killer, rapist sentenced to death in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pedophile serial killer Imran Ali was sentenced to death on Saturday for kidnapping, raping and murdering a six-year-old girl, Zainab Ansari, last month.
Her death ignited nationwide protests demanding swift justice and a public execution of the perpetrator.  An anti-terrorism court, amid tight security gave Ali the death sentence on four counts.
Ali was given the death penalty for kidnapping, rape, murder, and terrorism. He was also sentenced to life imprisonment for the disposal and concealment of the girl’s body and sodomy, along with a hefty fine and a term of seven years in jail.
Zainab’s father, Mohammed Amin Ansari, while lauding efforts of the Punjab chief minister and the chief justice of Pakistan, called for a harsher punishment.
“I am content with the judgment but I want him publicly hanged,” Ansari told Arab News. He will not rest until he sees Ali executed. He explained his and his wife’s pain and anguish when the news of his daughter’s murder surfaced while they were in Saudi Arabia performing Umrah. 
“The judgment is satisfactory,” said Zainab’s mother, who also demanded a public execution. She said he must pay for his crimes against other children and should be made an example of. “I want him punished at the same location he (abducted) Zainab.” 
The trial ended on Thursday in Lahore’s central prison in Kot Lakhpat but the verdict was reserved by presiding Judge Sajjad Ahmad. At least 56 witnesses were cross-examined by the prosecution and the newly appointed defense counsel.
During the trial, Advocate Mehar Shakeel Multani, after examining 22 witnesses, withdrew representation as defense after Ali confessed to his crimes shortly after his indictment. The Punjab government, bearing all costs, assigned a state counsel to defend the suspect. 
Zainab Ansari was abducted from the street while commuting to a Qur’an recital near her aunt’s house in Kasur on Jan. 4. Her body was discovered in a garbage dump five days later. An autopsy report revealed she was sexually assaulted and then murdered. Imran Ali, apprehended on Jan. 23, confessed to her murder. 
Ali has confessed to crimes against nine more children, two of whom survived, and a separate trial is expected soon, said Prosecutor General Syed Ihtesham Qadir.
The killer has a right to appeal within 15 days against the judgment in the High Court. Furthermore, he can appeal to the apex court and later file a mercy plea to the president.
“The death sentence cannot be carried out with the approval of two high court judges,” legal expert Feisal Naqvi told Arab News. The process can take up to two years but he thinks the process will be expedited and any appeals will be rejected.
He said the Council of Islamic Ideology has stated that public hanging is “un-Islamic” and public executions are not permitted by law.


Fury clouds funeral plans for Italy bridge victims

Updated 17 August 2018
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Fury clouds funeral plans for Italy bridge victims

  • The collapse of the Morandi bridge, a decades-old viaduct that crumbled in a storm on Tuesday killing at least 38 people, has stunned and angered the country
  • According to La Stampa newspaper, the families of 17 victims have refused to take part in the state funeral, while a further seven have yet to decide whether they will attend

GENOA: Grieving relatives wept over the coffins of dozens of victims of Genoa’s bridge disaster Friday amid growing fury over a planned state funeral, while rescuers pressed on with their tireless search for those missing in the rubble.
The collapse of the Morandi bridge, a decades-old viaduct that crumbled in a storm on Tuesday killing at least 38 people, has stunned and angered the country, with Italian media reporting that some outraged families would shun Saturday’s official ceremonies.
Italy’s government has blamed the operator of the viaduct for the tragedy and threatened to strip the firm of its contracts, while the country’s creaking infrastructure has come under fresh scrutiny.
Authorities plan a state funeral service on Saturday at a hall in Genoa, coinciding with a day of mourning.
Relatives who gathered at the hall on Friday embraced and prayed over lines of coffins, many adorned with flowers and photographs of the dead.
But according to La Stampa newspaper, the families of 17 victims have refused to take part, while a further seven have yet to decide whether they will attend.
“It is the state who has provoked this; let them not show their faces, the parade of politicians is shameful,” the press cited the mother of one of four young Italians from Naples who died.
The father of another of the dead from Naples took to social media to vent his anger.
“My son will not become a number in the catalogue of deaths caused by Italian failures,” said his grieving father, Roberto.
“We do not want a farce of a funeral but a ceremony at home.”
Despite fading hopes of finding survivors, rescue workers said they had not given up as they resumed the dangerous operation to search through the unstable mountains of debris.
“Is there anyone there? Is there anyone there?” one firefighter shouted into a cavity dug out of the piles of concrete and twisted metal, in a video published by the emergency services.
Between 10 and 20 people are still missing, according to Genoa’s chief prosecutor.
Ten people remain in hospital, six of them in a serious condition.
Hundreds of rescuers are using cranes and bulldozers to cut up and remove the biggest slabs of the fallen bridge, which slammed down onto railway tracks along with dozens of vehicles.
“We are trying to find pockets in the rubble where people could be — alive or not,” fire official Emanuele Gissi told AFP.
Officials say about 1,000 people in all are working on the disaster site, 350 of them firefighters.
The populist government has accused infrastructure giant Autostrade per L’Italia of failing to invest in sufficient maintenance and said it would seek to revoke its lucrative contracts.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini demanded that the company offer up to 500 million euros ($570 million) to help families and local government deal with the aftermath of the disaster.
The dead also include children, one as young as eight, and three Chileans and four French nationals.
The French nationals, all in their 20s, had traveled to Italy for a music festival, and other victims included a family setting off on holiday and a couple returning from their California honeymoon.
More than 600 people were evacuated from around a dozen apartments beneath the remaining shard of bridge.
On Thursday evening the first residents of some buildings in the affected area were allowed to return home, though others are too badly damaged to save.
The Morandi viaduct dates from the 1960s and has been riddled with structural problems for decades, leading to expensive maintenance and severe criticism from engineering experts.
Its collapse prompted fears over aging infrastructure across the world.
Italy has announced a year-long state of emergency in the region.
Autostrade, which operates and maintains nearly half of Italy’s motorways, estimates it will take five months to rebuild the bridge.
It denies scrimping on motorway maintenance, saying it has invested over one billion euros a year in “safety, maintenance and strengthening of the network” since 2012.
Atlantia, the holding company of Autostrade which is 30 percent owned by iconic fashion brand Benetton, has warned that the government would have to refund the value of the contract, which runs until at least 2038.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Autostrade “had the duty and obligation to assure the maintenance of this viaduct and the security of all those who traveled on it.”
The disaster is the latest in a string of bridge collapses in Italy, where infrastructure generally is showing the effects of a faltering economy.
Senior government figures have also lashed out at austerity measures imposed by the European Union, saying they restrict investment.
But the European Commission said it had given Rome billions of euros to fix infrastructure.