Punjab

ATC hands life sentence to man in Kasur child abuse case

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Lahore on Thursday sentenced a man to life imprisonment after finding him guilty in the Kasur child abuse scandal.
ATC judge Chaudhry Muhammad Ilyas announced the verdict against Haseem Amir in one of the 29 cases police had registered since the child abuse ring was uncovered in 2015.
Other suspects, including Aleem Asif, Naseem Shahzad and Maqsood Sindhi, were acquitted by the court over lack of evidence.
Amir was punished in FIR number 248/15 registered by Ganda Singhwala police. He has already been sentenced to life in prison in at least two other cases after the prosecution accused Amir and others of sexually assaulting young boys and filming the act to blackmail their families.
In Hussain Khanwala village in Kasur, videos were made of at least 280 children being sexually abused by a gang who later blackmailed their parents by threatening to leak the videos and received money from them.
The police, who had conspicuously failed to act despite pleas from some parents, eventually made dozens of arrests after clashes between relatives and authorities brought the issue into the media spotlight.
In March 2016, the Senate also passed a bill that criminalised sexual assault against minors, child pornography and trafficking for the first time previously only the acts of rape and sodomy were punishable by law.
Police had registered a total of 34 cases regarding the Kasur child abuse scandal. However, a joint investigation team had dismissed five cases as fake.
Last month, the ATC had awarded life sentence to three people, including Amir, that were nominated in one of the cases regarding the scandal. The three convicts were also slapped with a fine of Rs500,000 each.
Kasur has been in the limelight for recurring cases of child abuse in the area. Earlier in February, an ATC had awarded death sentence to the rapist and murderer of six-year-old Zainab in a high profile case that had sparked anger across the country with Justice For Zainab becoming a rallying cry for an end to violence against children.