- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 4, 2002

MULTAN, Pakistan (Agence France-Presse) Pakistan's Supreme Court yesterday took up the case of a teenager who was reportedly gang-raped on the orders of a tribal council as punishment for her brother's supposed sins.
Chief Justice Sheik Riaz Ahmed said he was shocked by the June 22 rape in the Punjab village of Meerwala, 380 miles southwest of the capital, Islamabad.
"It was a shocking incident in the 21st century and a blatant violation of human rights as well as human dignity," he said in an announcement carried on radio and television.
The 18-year-old was raped as punishment for her brother's affair with a woman from a tribe of higher social standing.
Four men took turns raping the girl on the orders of a Panchayat, or tribal council, on June 22. She was then ordered to return home naked while dozens of villagers watched. One of the council members is said to have taken part in the rape.
The country's top judge ordered the Punjab provincial police chief, Multan's district police chief and Meerwala village police to appear in court tomorrow with records of action they have taken against the jurists and rapists.
"The chief justice gave 72 hours for the police to investigate and report back to the court," state radio and television said.
The unexpected court intervention came amid mounting protests from human rights groups.
The court took up the case of its own volition, the state media said, adding that the incident had outraged the entire country.
Punjab Gov. Khalid Maqbool Ahmed has dispatched two provincial ministers to visit the village and submit a report to him today.
The governor also has ordered an overhaul of the local police force for trying to cover up the crime.
The entire staff of the local police station at Jatoi, a town near Meerwala, was transferred yesterday while two senior officers were suspended, Punjab law minister Rana Ijaz Ahmed Khan said.
The governor also ordered an inquiry into reports that the victim's 11-year-old brother also was raped.


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