Pakistan’s Supreme Court has reopened its investigation into the cover-up of an alleged 2010 honor killing, with the presiding judge calling for an “exhaustive inquiry” of a “suspicious conclusion.”
According to a feature in The Washington Post, five young women from a rural village in Kohistan have not been definitively seen alive since cellphone footage showing them clapping to music in the company of a young man was disseminated on the internet.
A local Muslim cleric reportedly issued a decree ordering the five girls to be killed for socializing with a person of the opposite gender. He also called for the boy and every member of his family to be put to death.
Court filings and reports from investigators allege that the families of the girls confined them for weeks, threw hot water and coals on them, and then killed them. Several brothers of the boy in the video were captured and murdered.
One of the boy’s surviving brothers, Afzal Kohistani, appealed to the Supreme Court, which sent fact-finding missions into the village in 2012. When investigators demanded to see the girls, the families presented three young women — but one investigator doubted that they were in fact the girls who appeared in the video. The case was, nevertheless, dropped.
For years, Kohistani’s petitions to reopen the inquiry languished. Then, in October of 2016, Pakistan passed a law mandating prison time for those convicted of honor killings, even if the perpetrator received forgiveness from the victim’s family — a loophole that had previously allowed many murderers to evade punishment. With its newly hardened stance on honor killings, the court sent a district judge and two police officers to investigate the Kohistan case.
A report filed by Judge Shoaib Khan found that while the villagers insisted that the girls were alive, two young women presented to investigators were younger than the victims. The third woman could not be identified because her thumbprints had been burned off. Khan concluded that the women were all likely imposters, writing that his investigation “leads to the suspicious conclusion that something is wrong at bottom.” He has called for an “exhaustive inquiry” into the case.
Below, watch a clip of the cellphone video that was recorded in 2010 and viewed by many on the internet.
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Read the full story at The Washington Post.