Mukhtaran rape accused re-arrested
MULTAN,March 19,2005: Four men who were sentenced to death for gang-raping Mukhtaran Mai but were freed on bail – triggering an outcry from human rights activists – have been arrested again, AP quoted police as saying on Friday.
The men were convicted nearly three years ago in a high-profile trial for raping Mukhtaran Mai, 33, on the orders of a village council to punish her family for her young brother’s alleged affair with a woman from another family.
The four walked out of jail on Tuesday after a judge granted them bail, following an appeals court decision to overturn their convictions earlier this month – a ruling that angered human rights activists and prompted a mass protest by women in Multan, the nearest city to her remote home village of Meerwala.
Mai on Friday met Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in Islamabad and requested him to order the arrest of the four men, according to Kashmala Tariq, a woman lawmaker who accompanied her.
The Supreme Court intervened in the case last week, following a flurry of developments this month that gave rise to legal confusion. After the appeals court ruling two weeks ago, the Shariat Court had reinstated the men’s conviction, saying the appeals court had no jurisdiction to rule on the case.
The Supreme Court has given the parties in Mai’s case a week to submit legal documents but has not said when it would make its ruling. The four men re-arrested are among six who were convicted in August 2002 of raping Mai. A fifth also had his conviction overturned by the appeals court, but was not granted bail.
The sixth had his sentence reduced by the appeals court from death to life in prison. Another report meanwhile quoted officials as confirming that Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz ordered the arrest of four men involved in a high-profile gang-rape case after an appeal by Mai.
“The prime minister ordered the arrest of the accused on my application and they have been re-arrested,” Mai told AFP after meeting Shaukat in Islamabad. “I am happy over the decision.”
Officials said the four had been arrested on Friday and that an order banning them from leaving the country had already been issued on Thursday. “They have been detained under maintenance of public order (MPO) laws on the request of Mukhtiaran Mai that her life was in danger if the accused were allowed to move freely,” said Kashmala Tariq.
“They have been detained for a period of three months,” added Ahsan Mahboob, police chief of Muzaffragarh. The prime minister has ensured Mai that the government would provide justice to her. Parliamentary Commission for Human Rights Chairman Riaz Fatyana also attended her meeting with the prime minister, according to Online news agency.
Mai apprised the prime minister of her case and appealed for the provision of complete security and justice to her. Shaukat ensured Mai that the culprits would not go free. Mai thanked the prime minister, President Musharraf and the Punjab government for their immediate action to arrest the accused. “I believe that Supreme Court will provide justice to me,” she said at a news conference later.
Multan correspondent adds: A very complex situation developed in the Mai rape case on Friday as Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz ordered the re-arrest of the accused rapists while the Supreme Court ordered each of the accused to submit personal bail bonds worth Rs 0.1 million and two bail bonds worth Rs 50,000.
The SC Registrar on Friday directed the Muzaffargarh district and sessions judge to immediately get personal bail bonds from each of the accused. The accused are Ghulam Farid Mastoi, Fityiaz Mastoi, Allahditta Mastoi, Faiz Mastoi, Muhammad Ramzan Pachaar, Muhammad Aslam Mastoi, Allahditta Mastoi, Khalil Ahmed, Ghulam Hussein Mastoi, Hazoor Buksh, Rasool Buksh Mastoi, Qasim Mastoi and Nazar Hussein Mastoi.
Source: The News