Court sentences tycoon’s son to death in Pakistan’s high-profile rape and murder case


The son of an industrialist tycoon in Pakistan was sentenced to death by a court in Islamabad for the rape and murder of Noor Mukadam, a case that sparked outrage in the country.

The 27-year-old Mukadam, daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat, was held captive, tortured and beheaded in July last year by Zahir Jaffer, 30, a Pakistani-American citizen and member of a well-known industrialist family.

Judge Ata Rabbani on Thursday sentenced Jaffer to be hanged, after a lengthy trial that began in October.

Jaffer is thought to have attacked Mukadam after she refused his marriage proposal.

Two of Jaffer’s household employees, a guard and a gardener, were both sentenced to 10 years for abetting the murder. They had blocked the young woman’s attempts to leave the luxury mansion, the court heard.

The court, however, acquitted Jaffer’s parents, who faced charges in connection with covering up the killing.

Shaukat Ali Mukadam, Noor’s father, said the verdict was a “victory for justice” and thanked the media for keeping the matter alive.

“Today, an exemplary punishment has been given to the main accused. Today, my daughter’s soul will be content to some extent. We are happy as far as the principal accused is concerned,” he told reporters outside the courtroom.

Prosecution lawyer Shah Khawar said: “Justice has been served, and today’s verdict will empower Pakistani women at large. We will challenge the acquittal of his parents at the higher court.”

The murder, and the efforts to protect the wealthy killer, had caused outrage in Pakistan where, despite high rates of brutal violence against women, there are low conviction rates, with most perpetrators going uncharged.

According to AGHS Legal Aid Cell, a rights group providing free legal representation for marginalised groups in Pakistan, the conviction rate for cases of violence against women is less than 3%.

Rights groups hailed the verdict and called for the higher courts to maintain the decision in the face of any appeal.

“Justice has been served today. We demand the higher courts will maintain the sentence and dismiss Jaffer’s appeal,” said Farzana Bari, a women’s rights activist.

A recent report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said: “Violence against women and girls – including rape, murder, acid attacks, domestic violence, and forced marriage – is endemic throughout Pakistan. Human rights defenders estimate that roughly 1,000 women are killed in so-called ‘honour’ killings every year.”

Jaffer, who can appeal against the verdict, was thrown out of the court several times during his trial for his behaviour, and his lawyers frequently carried him to proceedings in a wheelchair or stretcher to show he was not “mentally sound”. (Source: The Guardian)