Pakistan Gang-Rape Suspect Arrested
Jul. 06, 2002
%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:MUL102-070602; AUDIO:%)
MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) _ A suspect in the gang rape of an 18-year-old girl as part of a tribal punishment was arrested Saturday after surrendering to a local newspaper, police said.
Faiz Bakhsh Mastoi was the second man arrested in connection with the June 22 rape in the past two days. Police are searching for two other suspects.
Bakhsh Mastoi went to the office of a local newspaper in Multan, a regional center in Punjab province, and identified himself as one of those wanted in the case.
``I'm surrendering at the newspaper office because I'm afraid that police may kill me in a fake encounter,'' Bakhsh Mastoi told reporters.
Police have been under pressure to capture the rapists after Pakistan's Supreme Court accused local officers of negligence for failing to arrest them immediately after the crime.
Police said the woman was raped by four men after a tribal council in Meerwala village ordered that her family be punished after her 11-year-old brother was seen walking unchaperoned with a girl from a different tribe.
Police say the tribal verdict was illegal. But Pakistan has a tradition of tribal justice in which crimes or affronts to dignity are punished outside the framework of Pakistani law.
The rape has outraged rights groups, which have demanded an end to punishments by tribal councils. The Pakistan government has given the family $8,000 as compensation and says a school will be built in Meerwala and named for the victim.
The alleged rapists were well known in the village, and several of their relatives have been detained by police to pressure them to surrender to police.
Police said the suspects fled the village after the rape was reported to avoid arrest. The first man arrested was discovered Friday at a friend's farm in southwestern Baluchistan province.
The victim's mother, Allah Bachai, said on Saturday that the family had been threatened by relatives of the alleged rapists for reporting the crime.
Pakistan's Supreme Court has ordered police and local officials to give it updates on the investigation. After criticizing police at a hearing on Friday, the chief justice ordered investigators to return to court July 11 to give a progress report, court officials said.