Karachi: The judicial battle continues in the case of Arzoo Raja, the kidnapped Catholic girl, forcefully converted to Islam, forced to marry Islamic last October, then freed by the police and now living in a family home, under the control of social workers. A court of first instance in Karachi has formalized the charges against Arzoo Raja’s kidnapper, the Muslim Azhar Ali, indicting him for violating the law that prohibits child marriage, which provides for up to two years in prison; another crime ascribed to him is that of rape, which provides for imprisonment of not less than 10 years and, in some cases, even the death penalty. This is what Agenzia Fides learns from the lawyer Mohammad Jibran Nasir, the lawyer of the Arzoo family, after the court orders issued on 9 December.
The lawyer Mohammad Jibran Nasir notes to Fides: “After the hearing on December 9, the magistrate added to the trial some co-defendants such as the brother and a friend of Azhar Ali; the Islamic religious who celebrated the early marriage; i two witnesses of the marriage; the lawyer and his assistant who helped Azhar Ali prepare false documents “.
“We appreciate the fact that the magistrate has looked into the matter very carefully,” says lawyer Nasir. However, the family will present a petition to the judge so that crimes of seduction of a minor are also considered to be charged to Azhar Ali; kidnapping of a person under the age of 14; kidnapping and cruelty to minors; sexual abuse of minors under 18; counterfeiting of documents.
The lawyers, Arzoo’s family and the whole Christian community hope that the trial can end with an exemplary sentence, so that these cases of kidnapping and forced conversion, widespread in Pakistani society also because they are generally unpunished, can find protection in the venue judicial: in this way we can contribute to eradicating the phenomenon.
The 13-year-old Arzoo Raja was kidnapped, forced to convert to Islam and forced to marry her kidnapper Azhar Ali on 13 October 2020 (see Fides 21/10/2020) and, after a series of hearings, the province’s High Court del Sindh freed her by declaring her marriage illegal and ordering the proceeding against the kidnapper Azhar Ali to continue before a lower court.Currently Arzoo Raja continues to live in a shelter, a state institution, where he is allowed to meet the people he wants, including his parents, who ask for the girl’s definitive return to her family.
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