ISLAMABAD — Thirteen members of a Pakistani tribal council who allegedly strangled a girl to death and set her body on fire as punishment for helping one of her friends elope will face trial under anti-terrorism laws, police said Saturday.
The body of 17-year-old Ambreen Riasat was found in a torched van near a tourist resort in northwestern Pakistan on April 29. Police say the tribal council ordered the killing, and that the girl was strangled to death before her body was placed in the van and set alight. Police officer Muhammad Tahir said the suspects have been detained by counterterrorism police.
Nearly 1,000 women are killed every year in Pakistan in so-called honour killings in response to alleged romantic liaisons outside the bounds of arranged marriage. The killings are often carried out by close male relatives, but in this case, it appears the girl's father was not involved, and now wants the culprits punished.
Tahir said area councillor Pervez Gul Zaman, one of the 13 detained suspects, endorsed the council's verdict and wanted to "make the girl an example'' to deter others in the village from eloping. He said authorities are still awaiting the results of forensics testing, which would show whether the girl was drugged or poisoned, or subjected to any other "assault.''
People look at the van in which Ambreen Riasat was burned in the village of Makol outside Abbottabad, Pakistan May 6, 2016. (Photo: Reuters)
The girl's father, Riyasat, rushed to the village from the southern port city of Karachi after hearing about the death of his daughter. He is demanding that her killers also be burned in public, according to Matloob Khan, another police officer.
Tahir said Shamim, the mother of the slain girl, has been detained and is under investigation, adding that she did not appear concerned when her daughter went missing and had not enquired about the body found in the van.
But Khan said the girl's father has argued for his wife's innocence. Both parents go by one name.
Pakistan's main rights group, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, has strongly condemned the girl's killing.
"Nothing that the authorities do now can bring back the young victim, but they should at least now atone for their inaction by seeing to it that justice is done in this case and conditions that allow such incidents to take place are confronted,'' it said.