LAHORE: Pakistani police investigating the murder of a pregnant woman bludgeoned to death outside a court have arrested four men including her uncle and two cousins, a senior officer said yesterday.
Farzana Parveen was killed on Tuesday outside the High Court in the eastern city of Lahore by more than two dozen attackers armed with bricks, including numerous relatives, for marrying against her family's wishes.
Police were apparently at the scene, but did not intervene.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday told Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is his brother, to take immediate action on the case.
"Special investigation teams set up by police on the directive of the chief minister arrested four more people including an uncle and two cousins of the slain woman and a driver on Thursday night," senior police official Zulfiqar Hameed said yesterday. The recent arrests bring the number held to five, after Parveen's father was detained at the scene of the attack. Shahbaz Sharif ordered police to round up all those involved within 24 hours.
He has also directed that the case should be heard in an anti-terrorism court. This should mean it moves more quickly than in a regular court.
Pakistan's regular courts are notoriously slow, with many cases dragging on for years with little progress. The country's Supreme Court has demanded a police report on the incident within 48 hours.
The brazen, brutal nature of the killing, in broad daylight in the centre of Pakistan’s second largest city, has triggered outrage around the world.
The United States branded Parveen's killing as "heinous", with a State Department spokeswoman denouncing "violence that occurs in the name of tradition and honour, such as so-called honour killings".
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay strongly condemned the killing on Wednesday and urged Pakistan to take “urgent and strong measures” to put an end to so-called honour killings.
British Foreign Secretary William described the murder as “barbaric” and urged the Pakistani government to fully investigate it.
“I am shocked and appalled by the death of Farzana Parveen: both for the appalling manner of her death, and the unspeakable cruelty and injustice of murdering a woman for exercising her basic right to choose who to love and marry,” Hague said in a statement. “There is absolutely no honour in honour killings and I urge the government of Pakistan to do all in its power to eradicate this barbaric practice. AGENCIES