A Pakistani court on Thursday sentenced the scion of a wealthy industrial family to death for raping and beheading his girlfriend in a murder that sparked outrage over the brutalization of women in the deeply patriarchal nation.
Pakistani-American Zahir Jaffer, 30, attacked Noor Mukadam at his home in Islamabad last July after she rejected his marriage proposal.
Mukadam, the 27-year-old daughter of a former ambassador, had made repeated attempts to escape from the sprawling mansion, but was blocked by two staff members.
“The prime suspect has been sentenced to death,” Islamabad Court Judge Atta Rabbani said.
Jaffer’s parents, Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Adamjee, were found not guilty of attempting to cover up the crime.
The two associates were sentenced to 10 years in prison for complicity in murder.
“I’m glad justice has been done,” Noor’s father Shuakat Mukadam said, pledging to challenge Jaffer’s parents’ acquittal.
The case sparked an explosive response from women’s rights activists who took into account the pervasive violence against women.
The shocking nature of the murder, which involved a couple from the privileged elite of Pakistani society, has led to pressure for the trial to be completed quickly in a country where the justice system is notoriously slow and cases typically drag on for years.
According to the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell, a group that provides legal aid to vulnerable women, the conviction rate for cases of violence against women is lower than three percent.
Victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence often do not dare to speak out and criminal complaints are often not seriously investigated.
Jaffer, who can challenge Thursday’s verdict, was thrown out of court several times during the trial for his behavior.
He was often carried to trial by stretcher or wheelchair, and his lawyers argued that he should not be found “mentally healthy” — a maneuver prosecutors said was intended to suspend the trial.
At a hearing, he alleged that someone else had killed Mukadam during a “drug party” at his home.
When questioning Mukadam’s father, a former ambassador to South Korea and Kazakhstan, Jaffer’s lawyer suggested she had been murdered by her own family for having an extramarital affair.
In prosecutions for violence and assault, the personal history of the female victim is often taken up according to the patriarchal mores of Pakistan – another reason why justice is rare for women.
(This story was not edited by DailyExpertNews staff and was generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)