A Pakistani court on Saturday sentenced a serial killer to death after finding him guilty of killing eight children, including a 7-year-old girl whose rape and murder drew nationwide condemnation and triggered violent protests.
Mohammad Imran, 24, pleaded guilty during a five-day trial at a high-security prison in Lahore, public prosecutor Ehtesham Qadir told reporters.
Imran was arrested in January, two weeks after authorities say he raped and killed 7-year-old Zainab Ansari and threw her body into a garbage dump in the city of Kasur.
Anger over her murder saw local residents attacked a police station, sparking clashes in which two people were killed.
Zainab disappeared in the first week of January while walking to a Quranic studies class. She was staying with relatives at the time because her parents had gone to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage.
Her body was found on January 9.
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Her parents quickly returned home, but by that time their daughter’s body had been found and preparations for her funeral and burial were underway amid tight security.
Imran was arrested after his DNA was found to match samples taken from her body.
He told investigator that he lured the girl by telling her that her parents had come back and that she should go with him to meet them.
He received four death sentences for eight murders on Saturday.
Mr Qadir said Imran had the right to appeal, but may not challenge the verdict as he confessed to his crimes during the trial.
"Imran even today told the court that he killed the eight girls," Mr Qadir said.
He did not say how Imran’s execution would be carried out. There have been calls for him to be publicly hanged.
Zainab’s parents welcomed the sentence and called for a public execution.
"He should be stoned to death," Nusrat Ansari, Zainab’s mother, said.
Mohammed Amin Ansari, Zainab’s father, was present when the court announced the decision.
He thanked the judiciary, government and investigators for giving him speedy justice. He also called for a public execution.
"My daughter has gone, she will not come back, but I want to save daughters of other people," he said.