Noor Mukadam case: Zahir Jaffer to hang in Pakistan for beheading woman at his mansion

Mukadam was killed by Jaffer after making repeated attempts to escape his home

The scion of a wealthy industrialist family has been sentenced to hang for the murder of a young woman that shocked Pakistan and campaigners said highlighted the country's appalling level of violence against women.

Zahir Jaffer raped, tortured and finally beheaded Noor Mukadam at his Islamabad mansion.

Mukadam, who was the daughter of a former ambassador, made several attempts to escape from Jaffer's home before her death, but was blocked by household staff. Jaffer's parents were later accused of trying to cover up the crime.

"The main accused has been awarded the death sentence," judge Atta Rabbani told Islamabad district court.

The parents of Jaffer, Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Adamjee, were found not guilty of attempting to cover up the crime. Two staff members, a gardener and a watchman, were sentenced to 10 years in prison for abetting murder.

The prosecution alleged that Jaffer, 30, had a long-running friendship with Mukadam, 27, but she rejected his romantic advances. They said Mukadam leapt from a window at Jaffer's home after he refused to accept her rejection, but he ordered his staff to capture her before he killed her.

The horrific details of Mukadam's death sickened Pakistan, while campaigners said the crime underlined widespread violence against women even among the nation's wealthiest classes.

Mukadam's father hailed the verdict as a victory. He told reporters outside court: “An exemplary punishment has been given to the primary accused.

"Everyone was praying [for justice]. The whole nation and world were with us," he said.

Campaigners say that violence against women is rife in Pakistan. Yet victims are often afraid to speak out, criminal complaints are not investigated seriously, or victims are blamed for their actions. Cases that do proceed can drag on for years in the notoriously overburdened justice system.

Noor Mukadam was murdered last year. Twitter

Jaffer will be able to appeal against Thursday's verdict. During his four-month trial his defence team at one point implied that Mukadam had been killed by her own family for conducting a relationship outside marriage. His lawyers also argued that he was mentally ill and he was frequently carried into proceedings on a stretcher or in a wheelchair.

Sania Ashiq, a member of the Punjab Assembly, said the death sentence would “bring some confidence back into the system for women across Pakistan”.

She said: “Hanging Noor Mukadam's murderer is a start, working together to make all girls safe can be the real justice for her.”

Maryam Nawaz Sharif, a senior leader in the opposition PML-N party, said: “The wounds Noor Mukadam’s rape and murder inflicted on the collective conscience of humanity may never heal, but it is reassuring that beasts in human disguise will realise that consequences can be grave.”

Updated: February 24, 2022, 2:55 PM