A Pakistani man was sentenced to death Saturday for the rape and murder of a 7-year-old girl whose killing last month led to widespread protests.
Imran Ali, 24, was found guilty by a court in Lahore on four counts of murder, abduction, rape and sodomy of a minor.
Zainab Ansari‘s body was found dumped in garbage close to her home in the city of Kasur, in eastern Punjab province, authorities said.
The Prosecutor General of Punjab, Eihtesham Qadir Shah, announced the court’s verdict at a televised news conference. The trial lasted four days, he said.
A series of attacks on girls in the town of Kasur over the past two years have left parents angry and afraid to let their daughters leave the house.
Zainab was taken from near her home in Kasur on Jan. 4 while her parents were in Saudi Arabia on a pilgrimage. Her uncle reported her missing the next day, police said.
Speaking to CNN last month, her family recalled a girl who loved mangoes and ice cream, and who wanted to be a doctor or a teacher.
“Allah had made her so lovely that anyone who met her instantly fell in love with her,” said her father, Muhammad Amin Ansari.
Her brother said that he hadn’t been able to sleep since Zainab’s brutalized body had been found.
“She was so funny,” Abu Zar Ansari said. “I miss her laughter, I can’t forget her laughter.”
Kasur district was previously at the center of a child sexual abuse scandal in which a gang of up to 25 men was accused of blackmailing scores of children into making sex videos between 2009 and 2014.
The abuse was uncovered in 2015 and a number of suspects were arrested.