- Prosecutors argue that solid evidence against the accused individuals is available.
- Defence claims Shafqat Ali’s statement was delayed by a month and questions the authenticity of the identification parade.
- Lahore ATC reserves verdict after prosecution presents 37 witnesses, including survivor.
LAHORE: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) hearing the Lahore motorway gang rape case will announce its verdict on Saturday — March 20, 2021 — after arguments from the relevant parties concluded.
The Lahore ATC reserved its verdict in the Lahore motorway gang-rape case during a hearing presided over by ATC Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta and conducted at Camp (District) Jail.
Deputy prosecutors general Hafiz Asghar and Waqar Bhatti represented the prosecution, while Advocates Sher Gull Qureshi and Qasim Arain appeared on behalf of Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali, the prime accused and co-accused, respectively, who were produced by the prison authorities.
The prosecution argued that the accused individuals gang-raped the victim woman at gunpoint and solid evidence was available against them. The accused, they added, were arrested after their DNA matched with the samples collected from the crime scene whereas the survivor also identified them during an identification parade held in the presence of a magistrate.
Shafqat Ali, the co-accused, had confessed to the crime before a judicial magistrate, they submitted, pleading with the court to hand down strict punishment as they committed a heinous crime.
However, the defence counsel opposed the plea, saying the prosecution had failed to prove Shafqat’s presence on the crime scene and that the identification parade was held 22 days after his arrest.
The defence counsel also submitted that Shafqat’s statement was recorded after a delay of one month and eighteen days, adding that he was forced to record his statement, they claimed.
The defence also questioned the authenticity of the identification parade, while raising various questions on the process adopted during it.
In total, the prosecution presented 37 witnesses, including the survivor, during the trial. The court reserved its verdict till March 20.
Earlier, the Gujjarpura police filed a challan against the accused, wherein they were declared guilty. They had requested the court to award strict punishment to the accused as sufficient evidence was available against them.
On September 9, 2020, Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali had allegedly raped a woman at gunpoint in the city’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 same case, as well as the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl in Karachi, 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.