4 accused in Mukhtar Mai case released
DERA GHAZI KHAN, March 16,2005: Four of the five men convicted in the Mukhtar Mai rape case but acquitted by the Multan bench of the Lahore High Court were released by the Central Jail authorities here on Tuesday.
The four are: Faiz Muhammad, Ramzan Pachaar, Allah Ditta and Ghulam Farid. The fifth acquitted accused, Fayyaz, could was not released because he is wanted in another case. However, the jail authorities have moved him from the death cell to the general barracks.
The six accused in the case had been sentenced to death by the Dera Ghazi Khan Anti-Terrorism Court on Aug 31, 2002. The convicts appealed against the verdict and a division bench of the Lahore High Court at its Multan chapter acquitted five of them and commuted the death sentence of the sixth to life imprisonment.
In its detailed judgment, the bench stated that the prosecution could not prove that a ‘panchayat’ had ordered ‘gang-rape’ of Mukhtar Mai. The bench also did not accept that she had been gang-raped.
The Federal Shariat Court, however, suspended the LHC order, ruling that the high court had no jurisdiction to hear appeals in cases pertaining to Hudood laws. But on Monday, the Dera Ghazi Khan district and sessions judge sent the release orders of the five to the Dera Central Jail authorities.
The jail authorities were reported to be in a fix when the Supreme Court took suo moto notice and stayed the orders of both the LHC and the FSC and announced that the case would now be heard by the apex court itself.
Jail Superintendent Kazim Baloch said that the Dera sessions court directed them on Tuesday that the acquitted persons be released because the apex court order did not require the release to be stopped. He said that (now)the only convict in the case had been shifted to the ordinary barracks from the death cell.
Meanwhile, police were keeping a watch on the freed persons to ensure that they did not leave their village, a police said. Sources said they might be detained on Wednesday morning under the MPO.