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Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 12:30 GMT
The mind of a killer

Iqbal: Convicted of Pakistan's worst ever serial killing
The horrifying crimes for which Javed Iqbal has been convicted have shocked Pakistan, and news of the verdict has been flashed around the world, such is their scale and enormity.

According to his confession, later retracted, he murdered exactly 100 young boys from among the thousands of street urchins who inhabit the slums of Lahore.

Now 100 mothers will die mourning the deaths of their children

Javed Iqbal
He wove bizarre, complex and contradictory justifications for his actions.

One was to take revenge on the police, and the world in general, because he had been maltreated during an earlier arrest when he was accused of sodomy.

Another was to highlight the plight of the very street children whom he killed in cold blood.

During his six-month killing spree, the killer kept a detailed account of the murders, listing his victims' names, ages and the dates of their deaths. He also kept their shoes and bundles of their possessions.

The mind of a killer

Little doubt remains in people's minds over Iqbal's guilt, despite the disparity between his boastful statements before his arrest and pathetic denials in the packed Lahore courtroom.

But most are left asking what really drove a killer and his accomplices to such lengths and how it could have happened. How was it that his neighbours did not report the goings-on in his small flat, the almost daily traffic of young boys and the chemicals to dissolve their bodies over a period of six months?

Bundles of clothes helped Iqbal keep a tally of victims
Why did the police send him packing when he first turned himself in for the murders, and how did one accomplice die in police custody, allegedly by committing suicide with a jump from a second-floor window?

Iqbal's initial justification was that he had been maltreated by the police after complaining he had been badly beaten up by two of his servants in September 1998.

When he went to the police, they arrested him instead. The intolerable frustration, he wrote to a newspaper, pushed him towards suicide.

"Then I prayed that if I left the world, I would leave it with dozens of others," he wrote. "My prayer was accepted by God, and friends became angels for me, and then a blood-curdling drama began. Now 100 mothers will die mourning the deaths of their children."

In terms of expense, including the acid, it coast me 120 rupees to erase each victim

Javed Iqbal
After the 43rd murder, he wrote, he bought a camera to enable him to keep more complete records. Subsequent victims were photographed, in colour, usually smiling, sometimes bare-chested.

The boys were sexually abused and then killed in their sleep, strangled or made to inhale a mixture of cyanide and acid. Then their bodies were chopped up, dissolved in vats of acid and flushed into the sewers.

Iqbal boasted to reporters that he could have killed 500 boys, because he had the money for it, but he did not want to break his macabre pledge.

"In terms of expense, including the acid, it coast me 120 rupees ($2.40) to erase each victim," he wrote.


Theories have abounded about the case, including confident predictions that the murders were part of a human organ selling racket.

Others, noting that Iqbal turned himself in on the penultimate day of 1999, suggested he was making a bid for the "crime of the millennium".

But the most serious accusations involve the fact that the killer was so easily able to exploit impoverished street children who are drawn to anyone with money.

And one pundit has taken Pakistan's conservative sexual mores to task as a trigger for the murders.

"The abuse of young boys is an unspoken but rampant aspect of everyday life," the pundit writes.

"This is one result of the gender segregation prevalent in traditional societies like ours that nobody wants to talk about."
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See also:

01 Mar 00 | South Asia
Eyewitness: Trying a serial killer
02 Mar 00 | South Asia
Taped 'confession' played to court
13 Jan 00 | South Asia
Pakistan 'serial killer confesses'
14 Mar 00 | South Asia
'100 life terms' for serial killer
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