April 19, 2009 2:00:01 pm
A five-member team probing the public “flogging” of a teenage girl by the Taliban in Pakistan’s troubled Swat valley has concluded that the video footage of the alleged incident which sent shock waves across the country was “fake”. The probe team,formed after the Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar M Chaudhry took suo motu notice of the issue,has “completed its investigation and handed over a report to me,” federal Interior Secretary Kamal Shah was quoted as saying by ‘Dawn’ newspaper. The video footage,which surfaced two weeks ago,was “false and fake,” he said at Saidu Sharief in Swat,citing the probe report. He insisted that no such incident had taken place. Pakistani political leaders and rights activists had condemned the “flogging” of Chand Bibi after the emergence of the shocking two-minute mobile phone video,which showed the 17-year-old burqa-clad girl being held face down on the ground by three men while a fourth whipped her repeatedly. A large crowd of men watched the flogging,which reportedly occurred in the Matta area of Swat some weeks ago after the girl was allegedly seen with a man other than her husband.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had ordered an inquiry into the matter and Chief Justice Chaudhry sought fortnightly reports from the government on its inquiry. The report of the probe team,headed by a senior police official,will be handed over to an eight-member bench of the apex court,Shah said. The team and the judge of an Islamic court had recorded the statements of Chand Bibi and her husband,and they had both denied the incident. Shah said he had visited the area in compliance with the directives of the apex court,which had asked him to go to Swat to inquire about the incident. “The people of the area have also expressed ignorance about the incident,” he was quoted as saying by the paper.
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