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.