Lahore: Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch' brother was sentenced to life imprisonment by a court on Friday for murdering her in an apparent case of honour killing. Fouzia Azeem, better known as Qandeel was strangled to death at her home in Multan, Punjab province, on July 15, 2016. Sessions Court Multan Judge Imran Shafi announced his verdict in the case in the presence of all suspects and parents of Baloch, 26.
While the court awarded life imprisonment to brother of Qandeel, Muhammad Wasim, it acquitted all other suspects including her another brother Aslam Shaheen, her cousin Haq Nawaz and known cleric Abdul Qavi. A total 35 witnesses recorded their statements. Her brother Wasim had confessed to the crime, saying she brought "disrepute" to the "family's honour" with her risque videos and statements posted on social media.
The results of the DNA and forensic reports had also confirmed his involvement in her murder, according to the prosecution. Last month, her parents pardoned their sons and sought their acquittal. However, the court had rejected their plea.
Baloch 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.
By M Zulqernain