Supreme Court begins hearing Zainab rape-murder suo motu case | Pakistan

Protesters hold signs and chant slogans to condemn the rape and killing of 7-year-old girl Zainab Ansari in Kasur, during a protest in Lahore, Pakistan January 14, 2018. Photo: Reuters 

LAHORE: The Supreme Court of Pakistan has resumed hearing the Zainab rape and murder suo motu case at its Lahore Registry. 

Zainab was kidnapped on January 4 from near her aunt’s house in Kasur. Her body was discovered five days later from a garbage pile. The post-mortem report revealed that Zainab had been raped and murdered.

Later, the authorities succeeded in nabbing the suspect, Imran, said to be a serial killer involved in several other similar cases in Kasur.  

Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar had summoned today the heads of several news organisations as well as senior journalists as it will take up an anchorperson’s allegations, refuted by the government, that the suspect had several bank accounts and was part of an international ring. 

The anchorperson who made the claims earlier this week is in court, as is Zainab’s father Haji Amin Ansari, Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed, Punjab Advocate General Shakeelur Rehman, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali and the police team investigating the rape-murder incident. 

The three-member bench, headed by the chief justice, includes Justices Ijazul Ahsan and Manzoor Malik.

Startling allegations 

The anchorperson had stated in his show on a private news channel Wednesday night that the suspect Imran was part of an international group and had the backing of ‘powerful’ government officials.

He had also claimed that the suspect owned at least 37 bank accounts, including some outside the country. 

Following his revelations, the Supreme Court bench hearing the Zainab suo motu case had summoned the anchorperson in court.

Appearing in the apex court in Islamabad on Thursday, the anchorperson submitted details of the accounts as well as names of the two government officials, including a federal minister, involved in the ring. 

During the hearing, the chief justice had remarked that there would be severe consequences if the accusations are proved false.

Following the startling allegations, the Punjab government included members of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in the joint investigation team (JIT) probing the case to investigate the anchorperson’s claims.  

The anchorperson, however, failed to appear before the JIT on Friday and Saturday, but kept repeating his claims on various news channels. 

State Bank rejects claims 

The SBP rejected the anchorperson’s claims on Friday stating that the suspect had no commercial bank accounts in the country.

Announcing the findings of the central bank during a news conference on Friday, Punjab government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan said allegations regarding the primary accused by a television anchor were “fake and fabricated” and were issued without any consideration of the consequences.

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