Rapist Abid and Shafqat sentenc to death by ATC

LAHORE: The accused Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali have been sentenced to death for gang-raping a woman on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway last year.

An anti-terrorism court in Lahore, which had earlier reserved the verdict, pronounced it today (Saturday). The trial took place in Lahore’s Camp Jail, and Anti-Terrorism Court Judge Arshad Hussain Bhatta heard the proceedings.

This is a landmark decision as it is for the first time that convicts in a gang-rape case have been handed death sentences. Both the culprits were also given a life imprisonment sentence, and slapped with a fine of Rs50,000 each.

The judge announced the verdict, which came six and a half months after the crime took place.

Earlier on March 12 the Anti-terrorism court (ATC) has recorded statement of the victim woman during the hearing of motorway gang-rape case in jail. The defence counsel also completed cross examination from the eight of said witnesses whereas the cross examination of ninth witnesses would be held on the next hearing.

ATC Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta conducted the case hearing at Camp Jail, wherein jail authorities produced Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali, prime accused and co-accused.Deputy Prosecutor General Hafiz Asghar and Deputy Prosecutor General Waqar Bhatti represented the prosecution whereas advocates Sher Gull Qureshi and Qasim Arain appeared on behalf of the accused.

It is pertinent to mention here that the court had recorded statements of 34 prosecution witnesses so far after the accused denied the charges on being indicted.

The Gujjarpura police had filed a challan against the accused, wherein they were declared guilty. The police had requested the court for awarding strict punishment to the accused as sufficient evidence was available against them. The police had also submitted a list of 53 witnesses.

On September 9, the accused Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali, allegedly raped a woman at gunpoint in Gujjarpura area while she was waiting for help on the motorway after her car ran out of fuel. An FIR of the incident was lodged with the Gujjarpura police under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code and the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

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