US citizen, son of one of Pakistan's richest families, sentenced to death

US citizen, son of one of Pakistan’s richest families, sentenced to death

A US citizen has been sentenced to death for raping and beheading a diplomat’s daughter after she rejected his marriage proposal.

Zaheer Jaffer, the son of one of Pakistan’s richest families, brutally murdered 27-year-old Noor Muqaddam in his home in Islamabad on July 20, 2021.

CCTV footage shows Muqadam, the former ambassador’s daughter, making repeated attempts to escape the sprawling mansion, but was blocked by two of Jaffer’s employees.

Zaheer Jaffer (pictured Thursday, leaving court), the son of one of Pakistan's richest families, brutally murdered 27-year-old Noor Muqaddam in his home in Islamabad on July 20, 2021.

Zaheer Jaffer (pictured Thursday, leaving court), the son of one of Pakistan’s richest families, brutally murdered 27-year-old Noor Muqaddam in his home in Islamabad on July 20, 2021.

CCTV footage shows Nur Mukadam (pictured) repeatedly trying to escape the sprawling mansion, only to be blocked by officers.

CCTV footage shows Nur Mukadam (pictured) repeatedly trying to escape the sprawling mansion, only to be blocked by officers.

The court learned that a 30-year-old Pakistani-American tortured her with brass knuckles, raped her and beheaded her with a “sharp-edged weapon”.

“The main accused has been sentenced to death,” Judge Atta Rabbani said in the Islamabad District Court.

Jaffer’s parents, Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Adamji, were found not guilty in an attempt to cover up the crime.

Two employees were sentenced to 10 years in prison for incitement to murder.

“I’m glad that justice has been done,” Shuakat Mukadam, Noor’s father, said, promising to challenge Jaffer’s parents’ acquittal.

The case sparked a strong response from women’s rights activists, who acknowledged widespread violence against women.

The shocking nature of the murder, which involved a privileged elite couple in Pakistani society, has led to pressure to end the trial in a country where the justice system is notorious for its slowness and cases usually drag on for years.

According to the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Group, a group that provides legal aid to vulnerable women, the conviction rate for cases of violence against them is less than three percent.

Victims of sexual and domestic violence are often too afraid to speak up, and criminal complaints are often not seriously investigated.

The case sparked a strong response from women's rights activists, who acknowledged widespread violence against women.  Pictured: Women's rights activists hold banners and candles during a protest against the brutal murder of Nur Mukadam on February 22.

The case sparked a strong response from women’s rights activists, who acknowledged widespread violence against women. Pictured: Women’s rights activists hold banners and candles during a protest against the brutal murder of Nur Mukadam on February 22.

“There were disappointingly few convictions of the victims … which makes today’s conviction all the more significant,” said Rimmel Mohideen, an Amnesty International South Asia activist.

The court verdict calls for Jaffer to be “hung by the neck until he dies”, however he was also sentenced to 25 years in prison for both kidnapping and rape.

He will also be able to challenge the verdict handed down on Thursday.

According to local sources, Jaffer belongs to a noble family of Pakistan, who founded a trading company in 1849 – Ahmed Jaffer and Company.

According to his LinkedIn profile, his father, Zakir, is a director of the company. Jaffer’s mother, Asmat, is reported to be a housewife.

Executions have rarely been carried out in Pakistan in recent years – and usually only in terrorism cases – due in part to pressure from the European Union.

The latest was in December 2019, according to the Pakistan Justice Project, which will likely result in Jaffer serving a prison sentence only with deferrals for religious holidays and good behavior.

During the trial, Jaffer was kicked out of court several times for disobedient behavior.

He was often taken to court on a stretcher or in a wheelchair, and his lawyers argued that he should be declared “mentally unsound” – a maneuver prosecutors said was designed to stay the trial.

At one of the hearings, he stated that Mukadam was killed by someone else during a “drug party” at his house.

Shuakat Muqadam, former ambassador and father of slain Pakistani girl Noor Muqadam, speaks to media as he leaves court following the sentencing of a case in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 24, 2022.

Shuakat Muqadam, former ambassador and father of slain Pakistani girl Noor Muqadam, speaks to media as he leaves court following the sentencing of a case in Islamabad, Pakistan, February 24, 2022.

During the interrogation of Mukadam’s father, a former ambassador to South Korea and Kazakhstan, Jaffer’s lawyer hinted that she was killed by her own family for extramarital affairs.

Prosecutions for violence and sexual harassment often result in the victim’s personal history being recast in line with Pakistani patriarchal mores—another reason why justice is rare for women.

According to a recent report by Human Rights Watch on Pakistan, “Violence against women and girls, including rape, murder, acid attacks, domestic violence and forced marriage, is widespread across Pakistan. Human rights activists estimate that around 1,000 women die each year in so-called honor killings.”

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