The parents of Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch, who was murdered allegedly by her brothers in an apparent case of honour killing, on Wednesday pardoned their sons and urged a court to dismiss the case.
Fouzia Azeem, better known as Baloch was strangled to death at her home in Multan, Punjab province, on July 15, 2016 by her brother Waseem Azeem.
He later confessed to have killed his 26-year-old sister because she brought “disrepute” to the “family’s honour” with her risque videos and statements posted on social media.
Her brother Aslam Shaheen was also an accused in the case, which attracted much global attention.
The Dawn newspaper reported on Wednesday that Baloch’s parents submitted an affidavit in a Multan court, stating that they have forgiven her alleged murderers and asked the court to acquit them.
The affidavit stated that Qandeel’s murder case was registered on July 16, 2016, while the change to the Anti-Honour Killing Laws which prevents killers from walking free after a pardon was made three months later. Thus, it was not applicable in this murder case, Geo News reported.
The legislation mandates life imprisonment for honour killings, but whether a murder can be defined as a crime of honour is left to the judge’s discretion, the Dawn report said.
The affidavit also said that the allegations that Baloch was killed for “honour” were “contrary to facts”, it said.
The court, in response, summoned the lawyers representing the prosecution in the murder case as well as the counsel for Baloch’s parents.
The slain social media star’s parents had once before also requested the court to wrap up the murder case, saying they had forgiven both their sons, but their appeal was dismissed with the judge citing the anti-honour killing law.
After the law was passed in October 2016, Baloch’s parents had initially vowed not to forgive the alleged murderers.
Baloch became famous for her bold social media posts pictures, videos and comments. But these were considered outrageous by the largely conservative Pakistani community.
Every year over 1,000 women are murdered in Pakistan in so called ‘honour killings’ committed by their male relatives.
It was Qandeel’s murder that restarted the debate in the Muslim country that lead to the passing of an amendment to Pakistan’s Penal Code in October 2016, allowing the police to take over from the victim’s family as the main complainant in the case of an honour killing.
The amendment made it impossible for the family to use the country’s laws that allow close relatives of murder victims to pardon the killers.