ATC hands down death sentences to Lahore Motorway gang-rape culprits

ATC hands down death sentences to Lahore Motorway gang-rape culprits

Shafqat Ali (left) and Abid Malhi (right). — Punjab Police/Handout via The News

An anti-terrorism court Saturday handed down death sentences to Lahore-Sialkot Motorway gang-rape convicts  Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali.

Malhi and Ali have also been awarded a life imprisonment sentence and slapped with a fine of Rs50,000 each 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.

The judge arrived at the jail at 5pm and after 25 minutes announced the verdict, which came six and a half months after the crime took place.

The judgment was announced in the presence of the local magistrate, police officials, the petitioner, and the culprits.

The culprits will be transferred from Camp Jail to Kot Lakhpat Jail, where the sentence will be carried out.

As many as 50 witnesses appeared before the court to record their statements in the case.

The incident 

On September 9, 2020, Malhi and Ali had raped a woman at gunpoint in the Lahore’s Gujjarpura area in the presence of her children after her car ran out of fuel and she was waiting for help on the Lahore-Sialkot Motorway (M-11).

The men stole Rs100,000 worth of money, jewellery, and ATM cards before fleeing, the woman had told police at the time.

A first information report (FIR) of the incident — which had sparked protests across Pakistan over sexual violence against women and a lack of accountability — was lodged at the Gujjarpura police station under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).

Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken “strict notice” of the incident, and later okayed a law for the chemical castration of sexual abusers.

The draft of the anti-rape ordinance includes increasing women’s role in policing, fast-tracking rape cases, and witness protection.

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