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Kasur rapist-murderer sentenced to death in Pakistan

Special anti-terrorism court in Lahore convicts accused Mohammad Imran Ali of rape and murder of seven-year-old girl.

Zainab Ansari

A Pakistani serial killer convicted of rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl Zainab Ansari has been sentenced to death, prosecutors say.

The trial was held in the eastern city Lahore by the country's special anti-terrorism court on Saturday in the presence of the killer, Mohammad Imran Ali.

Zainab was found dead in a rubbish dump on January 9 in Kasur district near Lahore, in Punjab province, several days after her disappearance.

Imran was arrested two weeks after he committed the crime that ignited nationwide protests.

"I am very thankful to the chief justice; he treated Zainab like his own daughter," Zainab's father Amin Ansari said.

Imran Ali is sentenced to death on four counts but Zainab's mother deems this as insufficient for the crimes he committed.

"I want him hanged where he threw Zainab's body. And he should be stoned. Hanging him is just ordinary for him," Nusrat Amin said

"Everyone should take part in stoning him. And this thing about four hangings, one hanging, two hangings, what difference does it make? I want him hanged where he killed my girl."

The rape and murder of Zainab Ansari was the 12th such case in Kasur district in the last year, according to local media reports.

Ehtesham Qadir, the public prosecutor, said while Imran has the right to appeal, the verdict cannot be challenged since Imran confessed to eight similar attacks, including Zainab's.

"The court handed down death on four counts and life imprisonment to Imran Ali in the rape and murder of the little girl, Zainab," Qadir told Reuters news agency, adding that he will be tried further for at least seven other similar cases.

In addition to the verdict, Zainab's family will receive one million Pakistani rupees in compensation by the attacker.

Imran Ali was identified as one of Zainab's neighbours. He was seen in a chilling CCTV footage that emerged showing Zainab walking with her killer.

At least 10 such cases a day of child abuse are reported in Pakistan, according to Sahil, a non-governmental organisation that works on child protection.

In 2015, more than 200 children were targeted by a criminal gang operating a paedophilia ring in the village of Hussain Khanwala, about 10km south of Kasur.

The children were sexually exploited and recorded on video, with footage being sold and used to blackmail their families, according to a fact-finding report by the Human Rights Commission Pakistan.

At least a dozen suspects were arrested in connection with that ring, with two convicted so far.

Some children who were victims of the ring have recently spoken to local news media of their trauma, and the social alienation they have felt since they were identified as sexual abuse victims.

"Generations to come need to be safeguarded and children everywhere need to be protected," Amin Ansari said.

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