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Chunian minors killer remanded for 15 days

A Lahore anti-terrorism court Wednesday remanded the suspect behind the murder of four minor boys in Chunian, Suhail Shehzad, into police custody for 15 days.

The court also ordered a medical exam of the suspect.

The hearing was presided over by Judge Abdul Qayum Khan. Deputy prosecutor general Abdul Rauf Watoo was also present.

The suspect was brought in with a black hood over his head, prompting the presiding judge to ask why this had been done so, for which security reasons were cited in response.

“What is your name?” the court asked the suspect. “Do you wish to state anything for the record?”

“Please do not let the police beat me up in custody,” Shehzad pleaded before the court.

The investigation officer, in his statement to the court, said that the suspect had been brought to court in pursuance of an FIR registered against the sexual assault and murder of one of the four boys. The cases registered for the other three boys were being probed by a joint investigation team, he explained.

Shehzad’s arrest was announced by Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar a day earlier via a detailed press briefing in which the methods used to unearth the suspect’s identity were disclosed.

The chief minister confirmed that the suspect was behind all four cases of sodomy and murder which had shaken Kasur last month and shone fresh light on the continued prevalence of child sexual abuse in the country. “The case against him will be pursued in an anti-terrorism court where hearings will be held on a daily basis,” he had announced.

Four children — aged between eight and 12 years — had gone missing since June this year with the latest, Faizan, 8, disappearing on the night of September 16.

The remains of three of them were found on September 17 from sand dunes near Chunian bypass.

Chief Minister Buzdar had taken notice of the incident and sought a report from the Punjab police chief.

Meanwhile, protests were held to express concern over lawlessness and failure of police to protect the lives of people.

In the last few years, Kasur has been rocked by multiple incidents of abuse, rape and killing of children. In January 2018, six-year-old Zainab Ansari was found dead in a trash heap near Shahbaz Khan Road, five days after she went missing. Hers was the 12th such incident to have occurred within a 10-kilometre radius in Kasur over a 12-month period. Her death had sparked nationwide protests and outrage.

The prime suspect, Imran Ali, had been arrested on January 23, 2018, and on June 12 the Supreme Court had turned down his appeal against the death sentence, noting that he had admitted to committing similar offences with eight other minor victims. Ali was subsequently executed in October last year.

In 2015, Kasur’s Hussain Khanwala village had attracted worldwide attention when a child pornography ring was busted. Hundreds of video clips had emerged showing a gang forcing dozens of minor boys and girls to perform sexual acts and filming them. The gang had also used the videos to blackmail families of the children and extorted millions in cash and jewellery from them.

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