ATC sends Zainab murder accused on 14-day police remand

LAHORE: A special anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Wednesday handed Imran Ali Naqshbandi, the accused in the rape and murder case of Zainab to police on a 14-day physical remand. Imran will be presented again before the court on February 8. Judge Sajjad Ali granted the 14-day long physical remand in order to allow time for the police to match Imran’s DNA with seven other victims. During proceedings, Imran admitted to the rape and murder of Zainab.

Responding to the honourable Judge Ali’s question about the accused man’s missing beard, the prosecutor said that the man had shaved it off after murdering Zainab. Zainab was kidnapped from near her aunt’s house in Kasur on January 4. Her body was discovered in a garbage heap five days later. On Tuesday, Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif in a news conference confirmed that Imran had murdered seven-year-old Zainab, referring to him as a “serial killer”.

“He [Imran] admitted to all his crimes in a polygraph test that was conducted after his DNA matched the samples,” Sharif said during the news conference.

Accused used sweets to lure victims

Investigators have revealed that Imran, was 24 and unmarried. He was a resident of the same neighbourhood as Zainab. Officials in the JIT disclosed that Imran revealed during interrogation that he kidnapped Zainab at 6:45 pm. “When he couldn’t find an appropriate place [to rape her], he roamed around with her for over 1.5 kilometres and took her to a pile of garbage as he feared being caught if he went to a residential area,” the JIT official revealed, quoting Imran. Imran reportedly said further that he used to kidnap girls from the houses where he was employed. He allegedly confessed to raping eight girls in under-construction houses and two on garbage piles.

Sources said Imran would take the girls out on the pretext of buying candy and hair clips, adding that he took Kainat Batool out on the pretext of buying yoghurt and later raped her. She survived and is presently under treatment at a hospital in Lahore. Imran spent hours around Zainab’s house. His DNA matches those of eight girls whereas the samples of two girls raped earlier were wasted leading to an inconclusive DNA result.

The jacket that led to the suspect

A jacket owned by Imran was among the evidence that helped the police to narrow down on the suspect, revealed a BBC report.

The jacket that led to the arrest of the suspect. Photo: BBC

The CCTV video which went viral showed the suspect wearing a zip-up jacket having two giant buttons at either side of the jacket top. However, the CCTV footage did not clearly show the jacket’s colour. The police nonetheless carried out a raid at the suspect’s house where a black jacket with a similar design was found. Imran was eventually arrested as the prime accused after his DNA matched with the sample collected from the site where Zainab’s body was dumped.

According to the report, the suspect’s mother aided the police in tracking him down after his DNA samples matched. After the police arrested Imran, the suspect reportedly confessed to assaulting eight minor girls at an under-construction site and two others in a garbage heap. He also admitted to murdering five minor girls at an under-construction site and throwing away the bodies of three others in a garbage pile, sources said.

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