Pakistan child killer still on the run after innocent suspect killed by police, probe suggests

The rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Ansari earlier this month sparked outrage and protests across Pakistan. PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE, PAKISTAN- A Pakistan man accused of murdering a child and killed by police now appears to be innocent based on DNA evidence and that the child's real killer might still be on the run.

A BBC Newsnight investigation looked into the death of a man named Mudasir, who was accused of killing five-year-old Iman Fatima. Police shot Mudasir in February 2017, saying he tried to escape custody.

Pakistani officials now say they will investigate allegations police carried out the unauthorised killing of Mudasir.

The BBC Newsnight investigation has uncovered allegations that Iman's real killer is still at large.

DNA tests suggest Iman was killed by the same man suspected of the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Ansari earlier this month, sparking outrage and protests across Pakistan.

Police working on the investigation into Zainab's murder have discovered DNA traces matching those found in seven other attacks on young girls in the same city. Out of the seven attack victims, four - including Iman - were murdered.

Until now, police and Iman's family thought her case had already been solved - but her family now believe the real killer is still on the run, while Mudasir was innocent, BBC reported.

Iman Fatima had been playing outside in the street with her five-year-old cousin Adeel. Sitting next to his father, Adeel told the BBC: "The kidnapper made me stand against the wall and took Iman Fatima away. He took her upstairs, put her in a sack and took her away."

Adeel's memory of the incident is at times vague and confused but his family say after the abduction, despite his age, he identified the house his cousin had been taken into, and later the man responsible.

The suspect was 21 year-old Mudasir, a factory worker who had moved to Kasur, near Lahore, with his family around two years earlier.

What happened next is disputed. According to one police version, Mudasir was killed resisting arrest. Another senior police officer told the BBC he was taken into custody where he confessed, and then was killed "trying to escape".

Human rights groups have criticised police in Pakistan for carrying out what are known locally as "police encounters" - extra judicial killings that are then covered up as incidents where suspects resisted arrest.

Mudasir's mother Jamila Bibi told the BBC: "I feel as if I have lost everything. They killed my son."

DNA evidence examined as part of the inquiry into Zainab's murder later suggested Mudasir was not the killer.

Following Mudasir's death last February, another four young girls were attacked, including Zainab. Three of them died, one is still in hospital. Traces of the same DNA were found on their bodies as of Iman Fatima.

When presented with the allegations uncovered by the BBC, Malik Ahmad Khan, spokesman for the Punjab Government, told the BBC that the authorities in the province would carry out a "full-fledged inquiry" and that those responsible for any "extrajudicial killing won't be spared".

Iman Fatima's father told the BBC: "I'm so worried - the real killer is still roaming free, and an innocent man has been killed.

"I am so angry with the police I can't explain. We want justice and we want the actual culprit caught."

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