Police officials press for trial of men accused in gang-rape

Friday, July 19, 2002

MULTAN, Pakistan -- Police asked a magistrate on Thursday to order a trial for 15 men accused in the gang-rape of a woman whose assault was ordered by a tribal council to punish her family.

Four of the men are accused of raping the woman last month and the others allegedly ordered it or failed to stop it. Authorities say they will seek the death penalty for the four rapists and prison terms of seven to 10 years for the others.

The victim's family said the rape occurred June 22 after the tribal council in Meerwala village ordered it as a punishment after the woman's brother was seen walking unchaperoned with a girl belonging to a different tribe.

The woman's family was from the Gujar tribe, considered lower-class than the Mastoi tribe of the boy's companion. The council was Mastoi, as were the men who carried out the rape.

Under Pakistani law, the magistrate has a few days to decide whether to issue an indictment against the suspects and schedule a trial.

The chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court told authorities Thursday to expedite the trial but a date has yet to be set.

The Supreme Court is not hearing the case, but has demanded reports on the progress of police investigations.

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