Pakistani lawyers have banded together to prevent the prosecution of one of their number accused of raping and murdering a 12-year-old girl, a Christian, going so far as to issue death threats to anyone participating in the case, and physically preventing access to the court.
The case in question concerns the murder of a 12-year-old girl who worked as a maid at the Lahore household of a family of a prominent lawyer. The girl was a member of Pakistan’s frequently persecuted Christian minority.
Police judged the girl to have been beaten to death, and a local hospital reported she had received a broken arm and jaw, and that she had suffered fatal wounds to her genitals.
The family claimed she died falling down the stairs, although doctors found her corpse was already days old when first reported.
After police took members of the alleged murderer’s family into custody, the city’s lawyers banded together under the auspices of the Lahore Bar Association in order to oppose the prosecution, which they claim is a media witchhunt. The head of the accused family is a former president of this body.
The city’s lawyers attempted to stop court proceedings by forming a mob outside the court and physically restraining anyone from entering, including the girl’s family and journalists.
So intimidating were their actions that no legal counsel has dared come forth to prosecute. One Christian group reports that the lawyers even threatened to “burn alive” anyone involved in the prosecution.
Police were said to be supportive of the lawyers, even as they abused journalists, human rights organisations, minority parties and bishops.
National politicians have condemned the murder and called for justice, though apparently stopping short of intervening.