Qandeel Baloch (Image: Twitter)
A Pakistan court on Thursday rejected a request made by the parents of social media star Qandeel Baloch to pardon her brothers, who are accused of killing her.
Fouzia Azeem, better known as Baloch, was strangled to death at her home in Multan, Punjab province, on July 15, 2016 by her brother Waseem Azeem. Waseem later confessed to have killed his 26-year-old sister because she brought "disrepute" to the "family's honour" with her "risque videos and statements posted on social media".
Her brother Aslam Shaheen was also an accused in the case, which attracted much global attention.
On Wednesday, Qandeel's parents -- Muhammad Azeem and Anwar Bibi -- who are complainant in this case, submitted an affidavit in a Multan court, stating that they have forgiven her alleged murderers and asked the court to acquit them. They also backtracked from their earlier statement that Qandeel was killed in the name of honour.
On Thursday, Multan Sessions Court judge Imran Sharif dismissed the parent's plea, observing that the "court no longer accepts pardon or reconciliation in honour killing cases". He said the trial will proceed as per law.
The case is pending in the court for the last three years and a total six suspects are facing the trial.
The judge also asked Qandeel's father if he has pardoned the other four suspects as well, to which Muhammad replied, "No. I have only pardoned my two sons and want the court punish the other suspects."
In their affidavit, Qandeel's parents stated that her murder case was registered on July 16, 2016, while the change to the Anti-Honour Killing Laws which prevents killers from walking free after a pardon was made three months later. Thus, it was not applicable in this murder case.
The Anti-Honour Killing legislation mandates life imprisonment for honour killings, but whether a murder can be defined as a crime of honour is left to the judge's discretion. The court also observed that the parent's pardon would set a wrong precedent.
"Do you realise what impact your pardon will have on the other accused (in such cases)?" the judge asked the parents. Qandeel's parents in their affidavit also stated that her murder was not an act of "honour killing".
The slain social media star's parents had once before also requested the court to wrap up the murder case, saying they had forgiven both their sons, but their appeal was dismissed with the judge citing the anti-honour killing law.
After the law was passed in October 2016, Qandeel's parents had initially vowed not to forgive the alleged murderers. Qandeel became famous for her bold social media posts - pictures, videos and comments. But these were considered outrageous by the largely conservative Pakistani community.
Every year over 1,000 women are murdered in Pakistan in so called 'honour killings' committed by their male relatives.
It was Qandeel's murder that restarted the debate in the Muslim country that lead to the passing of an amendment to Pakistan's Penal Code in October 2016, allowing the police to take over from the victim's family as the main complainant in the case of an honour killing. The amendment made it impossible for the family to use the country's laws that allow close relatives of murder victims to pardon the killers.