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6 Sentenced to Death for Rape in Pakistan

Crime: A village council had ordered the attack on a woman as penalty in a tribal dispute.

September 01, 2002|From Times Wire Services

DERA GHAZI KHAN, Pakistan — A Pakistani court early today sentenced six men to death by hanging in the case of a woman who was gang-raped on the orders of a traditional village council. Eight others were acquitted in a case that highlighted the abuse of women in rural areas.

The victim was not present when the court announced the decision amid heavy security. She said Friday that members of her family had been threatened with death if the men were convicted.

Defense lawyer Mohammed Yaqub said four of the men were sentenced to death for committing the rape and two others for serving on the village council that authorized it. "We will appeal," he said.

Yaqub named the four sentenced to death for the rape as Allah Ditta, Abdul Khaliq, Fayyaz Hussain and Ghulam Farid. The two on the council were Faiz Bakhsh and Ramzan Bichar, he said. Each was also fined more than $600.

All eight who were acquitted had also served on the council. Bakhsh and Bichar were the most vocal council members in arguing for the attack.

The woman said she was raped by four men after approaching the traditional council in Meerwala to settle a dispute with the rival Mastoi clan.

She said she went to the council after her 11-year-old brother was kidnapped and sodomized by members of the Mastoi tribe, who accused him of having an illicit affair with one of their relatives.

The council ruled that to save Mastoi honor, the boy should marry the girl with whom he was linked, while his sister, who is divorced, was to be given away in marriage to a Mastoi man.

The prosecution said that when she rejected the decision she was gang-raped by the four Mastoi men and made to walk home nearly naked in front of hundreds of people.

Her elder brother said the family was satisfied with the verdict.

"They committed a big crime against my sister, and the decision was according to our expectations," he said.

Members of the Mastoi clan were visibly upset by the ruling. In a daylong vigil before the verdict was announced, hundreds of clan members, mostly relatives of the defendants, stood outside in a light rain and prayed for an acquittal.

Armed police were stationed throughout the Punjab province town of Dera Ghazi Khan, where hundreds of members of the victim's family also had gathered.

The woman remained in Meerwala, where police beefed up security around her home Saturday.

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