Murderer, rapist of six-year-old girl hanged in Pakistan

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Imran Ali, 24, who was arrested after Zainab Ansari’s body was found in a garbage dump in Kasur, located more than 50kms away from Lahore, was executed in Kot Lakhpat jail at 5.30am. (AFP/File)
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Imran Ali, 24, who was arrested after Zainab Ansari’s body was found in a garbage dump in Kasur, located more than 50kms away from Lahore, was executed in Kot Lakhpat jail at 5.30am. (Photo courtesy: social media)
Updated 17 October 2018

Murderer, rapist of six-year-old girl hanged in Pakistan

  • Imran Ali was convicted of raping and killing Zainab Ansari in Kasur, near Lahore
  • The girl's parents were in Saudi Arabia for Umrah at the time of the horrific crime

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Pakistan’s government hanged a man on Wednesday for raping and murdering a six-year-old girl.
Imran Ali, 24, who was arrested after Zainab Ansari’s body was found in a garbage dump in Kasur, more than 50 km away from Lahore, was executed in Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore, at 5.30 a.m.
Officials handed over Ali’s body to his family for the last rites to be performed in Kasur.
Speaking to the local media soon after the execution, Zainab’s father, Amin Ansari, told Arab News: “Justice is served. I am satisfied … We are relieved today that the criminal has finally met his fate. The whole family is devastated. We miss our daughter … We can’t believe, even today, that she is no longer with us.”
The murder that shook the nation began on Jan. 4, when Zainab left her house for Qur’an studies at a madrassa nearby. Her parents were away in Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah, leaving her under the supervision of her aunt.
Unable to trace her whereabouts, Zainab’s uncle lodged a complaint with the police about his missing niece the next day. Four days later, on Jan. 9, Zainab’s body was recovered from a dumping ground.
The gruesome rape and murder led to nationwide protests, with people taking to social media to express outrage over the incident. It resulted in #JusticeForZainab becoming one of the top trends on Twitter at the time. Riots also broke out in the Kasur district after Zainab’s battered body was recovered, with people urging law enforcement agencies to bring the culprit to book.
Then Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif constituted a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe and resolve the case. “I will not rest until justice has been served to the affected family,” he said at the time.
The high-profile nature of the case brought several law enforcement agencies together; and amid pressure from civil society groups and the media, police were able to arrest Ali two weeks after the incident.
They had relied on CCTV footage that showed Zainab walking with Ali in a neighborhood alleyway. The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) was called upon to identify the suspect based on a sketch, but failed to deliver any leads. Using the DNA tests of 1,150 men between the ages of 20 and 45 who matched the suspect’s age and were living within 2 km of Zainab’s house, the JIT finally zeroed in on Ali.
Ali had already been detained by the police in the initial stages of the case, but was released after Zainab’s family had intervened, reasoning that he was someone they knew and trusted. He further cemented their conviction by joining the team leading the search for Zainab.
Following his arrest, investigators conducted two other tests on Ali before confirming his involvement in Zainab’s rape and murder and those of four other girls from the same locality.
With all his appeals for clemency rejected by the superior courts and the president, Ali was finally convicted in February this year after a four-day trial.
Zainab’s father, who was present at the jail to witness Ali’s execution, said: “He didn’t look remorseful or ask for forgiveness. Perhaps he was aware of the gravity of the crime he had committed.”
Ansari had appealed to the Lahore High Court to publicly hang Ali as a lesson to others, but his request was denied. “Zainab cannot come back, but we hope that her killer’s execution will serve as a strong deterrent in the society,” he said.
Zainab’s murder was one among 12 to take place in Kasur since last year.
In 2015, a gang of pedophiles was arrested following allegations that it was responsible for abducting and sexually assaulting more than 280 children in the area.


Bushfire threat still high as Australia clean up begins

Updated 15 min 31 sec ago

Bushfire threat still high as Australia clean up begins

  • Firefighters were still battling 140 blazes across the country’s eastern seaboard
  • Tough conditions were expected to flare again in Queensland and New South Wales at the weekend as the temperature rises and winds pick up
GLENREAGH, Australia: Australians on Wednesday began sifting through the ashes of hundreds of bushfires that have ravaged the country, relieved that their worst fears were unrealized — but wary of a long and brutal summer ahead.

Firefighters were still battling 140 blazes across the country’s eastern seaboard, but a respite from “catastrophic” weather conditions meant the danger from many fires was downgraded.

The northern state of Queensland remained on high alert, with residents on the north shore of popular holiday town Noosa told to “leave immediately” as an “unpredictable” fire was burning nearby.

But in the worst-hit areas of New South Wales, cooler southerly winds eased conditions — a stark contrast with the gale-force gusts and high temperatures that plagued firefighters for much of Tuesday.

In all, 50 homes were damaged or destroyed, and around 20 people were injured, but most populated areas were spared.

Residents of the small towns of Glenreagh and Nana Glen returned to find houses intact, a nearby 150,000-hectare (370,000-acre) inferno having stopped just short of their doors.

But on nearby farmland, unlucky families faced homes destroyed and cars transformed into blackened husks.

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services acting commissioner Michael Wassing said another wind change on Wednesday afternoon could worsen several large fires in difficult-to-access areas of the state.

“We’ve got another tough day today and there’s an extended forecast that we’re not out of the woods by any means,” he said.

Tough conditions were expected to flare again in Queensland and New South Wales at the weekend as the temperature rises and winds pick up.

“We will not have all these fires contained before then,” New South Wales Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said, adding that it could be “many, many weeks” before the situation is fully under control.

“Unfortunately, what we need is rain... and there is certainly nothing in the forecast for the foreseeable future that’s going to make any discernible difference.”

More than 300 new fires began in the state Tuesday, with 19 classified as emergencies. They spanned a distance of almost 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) — from the outskirts of Sydney north toward Brisbane.

“The losses, the damage, the consequences could have been simply enormous across such a broad geographic area,” Fitzsimmons said.

New South Wales Police said they had begun investigating whether a small number of the blazes had been deliberately lit, as they made handful of arrests for suspected looting of fire-stricken properties.

The hot, dry continent of Australia has long experienced bushfires, but scientists say climate change is exacerbating extreme weather conditions, including a prolonged drought in the country’s east that has created tinderbox-like conditions.

The Bureau of Meteorology says human-caused climate change is also “influencing the frequency and severity of dangerous bushfire conditions” by increasing temperatures, sapping moisture from the environment and causing an earlier and more extreme fire season.

The unprecedented wave of bushfires have brought renewed calls for the conservative government to curb fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

However Prime Minister Scott Morrison and other senior ministers have repeatedly refused to answer questions about climate change during the unfolding catastrophe.