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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 08:58 GMT 09:58 UK
Rape case four hanged in Pakistan
Four Muslim men were hanged in Pakistan on Thursday for gang-raping a teenage Christian girl at gunpoint in the city of Faisalabad in 1999.

The men were convicted by an anti-terrorism court. Their guilty verdicts were upheld by higher courts, and clemency appeals were turned down.

"The men were hanged at 0430," said a prison official in Faisalabad.

Christians form a small minority in Muslim-majority Pakistan, which has a population of about 150m people.

The bodies of the men were handed over to their relatives later on Thursday.

Their appeals to higher courts - including a Sharia (Islamic) court all failed. A final plea for clemency was rejected by President Musharraf.

Stigma

Correspondents say that in general Muslims and Christian live peacefully together in Pakistan, and that there are few incidents of sectarian violence in comparison to the number of attacks against women.

But many rapists escape punishment, correspondents say, because of the reluctance of victims or family members to come forward and because of the stigma associated with such attacks.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan recorded 207 cases of gang-rape in Pakistan during 2005.

Global human rights group Amnesty International says 241 people were sentenced to death in Pakistan during 2005, and 32 people were executed.




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