Parents in acid attack get bail from court

Updated 14 December 2012
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Parents in acid attack get bail from court

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: A Pakistani court granted bail yesterday to a couple who confessed to murdering their daughter with acid, citing lack of evidence and witnesses, lawyers said.
Police arrested Mohammad Zafar and his wife Zaheen Akhtar a week after the Oct. 29 attack on their 15-year-old daughter Anusha, who died in agony from horrific burns in Pakistan-administered Kashmir after allegedly looking at boys.
But district and sessions judge Munir Gilani granted bail because “police had no evidence and they could produce no witnesses,” public prosecutor Mohammad Ali Rathor told reporters.
“The court found it a weak case and, giving the benefit of doubt, granted bail to her parents,” he said.
“No one appeared on behalf of the deceased girl and no human or women rights activists came to pursue the case,” Rathor added.
Defense lawyer Riaz Naveed Butt said the couple were released in Kotli, 130 kilometers (80 miles) north of regional capital Muzaffarabad, after depositing bonds worth 100,000 rupees ($1,020) each.
“My plea was that she was not killed, she committed suicide,” Butt told AFP. He said that Anusha, who spent two days in agony in hospital, had failed to give a statement naming her killers before she died.
Rathor said he would appeal against bail because the couple had “confessed.” The parents told AFP in an interview last month that they waited two days to take Anusha to hospital, where a doctor said she arrived in a “very critical condition” with almost 70 percent burns.
Anusha’s mother Zaheen spoke of her remorse for what happened.
“I deeply regret my action. I am repenting as I should not have done this. She was very innocent,” she told AFP from her police cell in November.
She said she and her husband feared Anusha would follow in the footsteps of her elder sister, who was married off at 16 “because people had been talking about her bad character.”


Rights activists say more than 900 women were murdered last year after being accused of bringing shame on their families.
Many such killings are passed off as suicide and suspects who are arrested are often released due to lack of evidence.


Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

Updated 19 April 2018
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Divided UN council heads to Sweden for farmhouse retreat

  • 15 ambassadors will join Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
  • The three-day retreat will begin on Friday.

United Nations, United States: After a week of bitter acrimony over Syria, UN Security Council ambassadors are heading to a farmhouse in southern Sweden for a retreat to try to break the deadlock over how to end the war.
US Ambassador Nikki Haley and her Russian counterpart Vassily Nebenzia will be among the 15 ambassadors joining Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for the secluded getaway in a country setting.
The three-day retreat beginning Friday comes after one of the council’s most divisive periods, with the United States and Russia split over the alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma that lead to military action by Washington and its allies against Syria.
The council met five times on Syria last week including on Tuesday when Russia vetoed a US-drafted resolution setting up a chemical weapons probe while two other proposed measures failed to pass.
The Russia-US rivalry prompted Guterres to declare that the Cold War was “back with a vengeance.”
Asked whether he expected awkward moments during the Swedish retreat, Nebenzia told reporters: “I will see how they feel about dealing with me after all that happened.”
“It’s not news to anyone that the council is divided on Syria,” said Sweden’s Deputy UN Ambassador Carl Skau. “There is some need for humility and patience at this moment.”
The council will be staying at Backakra, the summer residence of Dag Hammarskjold, who was the United Nations’ second secretary-general.
The residence located on the southern tip of Sweden, far from Stockholm, is a “fitting and inspiring venue” to reconnect with the power of diplomacy, said Skau.
“It’s a place to roll up our sleeves, take off our jackets and ties and come up with some real and meaningful ways forward,” he said.
The annual brainstorming session usually takes place in upstate New York, but Sweden, which is a non-permanent council member, offered to host this year’s gathering.
Guterres had told council members that the focus of the meeting would be his plan for a “surge of diplomacy” to address conflicts worldwide, but the council’s deadlock over Syria is emerging as the top priority.