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5 hang for rape in Pak

Islamabad, July 12 (PTI): Five men convicted of gang-raping a woman were hanged in Pakistanís eastern punjab province early today.

The men were sent to the gallows at the district jail in Sialkot, about 125 km north of provincial capital Lahore, jail superintendent Abdul Razaq Niazi said.

He said this was the first time that five men were hanged on the same day in Sialkot, a town famous for manufacturing sports goods.

Another jail official said the men were aged between 23 and 35 and three of them were married. Their bodies were handed over to their relatives outside the jail.

The gangrape victim, Sureya Bibi, had appealed to the court yesterday to forgive the convicts but the chief justice of the Lahore high court rejected her request.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry said there can be no pardon in a rape case and, therefore, the punishment cannot be stopped. Gangrape is punishable by death under special laws introduced by Pakistan in 1993.

The men ' Mushtaq Papu, Shehzad Maseeh, Muhammad Yousaf, Abdul Jabbar and Iftikhar Ahmed ' were convicted of raping the woman in September 1999.

Their appeals against the sentences were rejected by the higher courts.

They were first given the death penalty by an anti-terrorism court which was later upheld by the high court and the supreme court. President Pervez Musharraf had also rejected their petitions.

At a news conference last week, the men said they were were innocent and they did not rape Sureya Bibi.

On June 29, four men were hanged in a jail in the industrial city of Faisalabad in Punjab province for the gangrape of a girl.

Amnesty International says that 241 people were awarded the death punishment in Pakistan in 2005.

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