Rape-murder accused killed by police may be innocent

Mudasir was arrested after the death of Iman Fatima last February. He was shot by police while in custody.
Mudasir was arrested after the death of Iman Fatima last February. He was shot by police while in custody.

LAHORE (Pakistan) • A Pakistani man killed by police after being accused of murdering a child now appears to be innocent, according to DNA evidence - and the child's real killer may still be at large.

A BBC Newsnight investigation looked into the death of a man named Mudasir, who was accused of killing five-year-old Iman Fatima last February.

Police shot Mudasir, saying he tried to escape custody.

Police and Iman's family had thought that her case had been solved - but now the family believe the real killer is still on the loose and that Mudasir was innocent, the BBC reported on Friday.

While investigating the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Ansari earlier this month, which sparked outrage and protests across Pakistan, police discovered DNA traces matching those found in seven other attacks on young girls in the same city.

And the DNA tests suggest that Zainab's killer may have been the same man who murdered Iman, reported the BBC.

Officials said Zainab is the 12th child found raped and murdered within a 2km radius in the town of Kasur, near Lahore, in the past two years .

Pakistani media last Wednesday reported that a suspect has been detained over her murder, according to Reuters.

Mr Shahbaz Sharif, Chief Minister of Punjab province, where Kasur is located, visited the town last Wednesday and held a meeting with officials about the investigation.

He did not confirm the arrest in his remarks to the media after the meeting, but promised a breakthrough soon.

In Iman's case, initial witness testimony by her five-year-old cousin, Adeel, suggested that Mudasir, 21, a factory worker who had moved to Kasur with his family about two years earlier, took Iman away.

But following his death last February, four other young girls, including Zainab, have been attacked. Three of them died and one is still in hospital. Traces of DNA found on their bodies match those found on Iman.

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

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

Iman'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."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 21, 2018, with the headline 'Rape-murder accused killed by police may be innocent'. Print Edition | Subscribe