Abid Malhi, Shafqat Ali have also been sentenced to life imprisonment and fined for ‘robbery’ and ‘mischief’
An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) in Lahore on Saturday sentenced the two men accused of the Motorway Gang-Rape to death, with their legal counsel vowing to appeal the decision.
Abid Malhi and Shafqat Ali attacked the victim, a French-Pakistani, in September 2020 after her car ran out of fuel outside Lahore, leaving her and her children stranded on the side of a newly constructed motorway connecting the Punjab capital to Sialkot. The sexual assault occurred in front of her children, with the convicts robbing her before dragging the entire family into a nearby jungle where they raped her at gunpoint.
The rape had provoked nationwide outrage, which only grew worse after the top police official of Lahore, Umar Sheikh, blamed the victim for “thinking she was in France” in multiple TV appearances, exposing the difficulty women face in coming forward to report sexual assault cases.
In its verdict, the ATC said the prosecution had proven the case against the accused. “The offense of rape is heinous offense and when it is committed in the eyesight of children of the victim, heinousness further magnified and which is shocking for general public as well so such accused persons should be dealt with iron hand,” read the verdict, which directed authorities to hang the convicts by their necks until they were dead. However, it added, the punishment should only be carried after confirmation of the same by the Lahore High Court.
The judgment also calls for the confiscation of all properties owned by the convicts, and has sentenced them to life imprisonment over kidnapping and abduction charges. The court ordered Rs. 200,000 fines each to the convicts for robbery, and Rs. 50,000 fines each for mischief.
“It has been established on record that during instant occurrence victim received injuries which comes within the ambit of Jurh Ghayr Jaifah Damiyah, thus both the accused persons are convicted and punished u/s 337-F1 and they are directed to pay Daman Rs. 50,000 each to the victim,” read the judgement, which said all sentences would run concurrently and the benefit of Section 382-B of the Pakistan Code of Criminal Procedure would be given to each convict.
The judgment also allows the convicts to challenge their conviction within seven days before the Lahore High Court.
The horrifying gang-rape of the victim in front of her children incensed the country, prompting the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan to vow that strict action would be taken. In a television appearance, the premier said all rapists should be publicly hanged or chemically castrated to ensure that similar crimes were prevented in future.
In November, President Arif Alvi approve the Anti-Rape Ordinance 2020, which aims at ensuring speedy trial of rape cases with women and children as victims and allowing for chemical castration of any persons found guilty of such offenses.