The brother of slain social media star Qandeel Baloch has been charged with her murder, the final step before a trial begins in one of Pakistan’s highest-profile “honor killings.”
Model Baloch, who shot to fame for her provocative selfies, was strangled in July by her brother Muhammad Waseem. He said she had brought shame on the family and confessed to his crime in a press conference after his arrest. Her detractors sexually demeaned the model, but fans praised her for daring to challenge social norms by appearing in videos that by Western standards would appear tame.
Waseem was produced before a court in Multan on Monday along with his cousin Haq Nawaz whom police deemed to be an accomplice, though the nature of his involvement was unclear. A second indicted accomplice, taxi driver Abdul Basit, is on bail.
“Judge Muhammad Saeed Raza indicted all the three men and adjourned the hearing until Dec. 8,” a government prosecutor told AFP on condition of anonymity on Tuesday, because he is not authorized to speak to media. He added the accused had pleaded not guilty.
“The court also asked police to submit a complete list of charges against all the accused on the next date of hearing,” the prosecutor added.
Some of Baloch’s more notorious acts included offering to perform a striptease for the Pakistani cricket team, and donning a plunging scarlet dress on Valentine’s Day. She also posed for selfies with a high-profile mullah in an incident that saw him swiftly rebuked by the religious affairs ministry.
Waseem told a press conference in July he was not remorseful over what he did, calling his sister’s behavior “intolerable.” Her murder reignited calls for action against so-called “honor killings,” in which a victim is killed by a close relative—who could subsequently be pardoned by another family member under Pakistan law. In October Parliament passed a law aimed at removing the ability to forgive “honor” killers. But critics contend some loopholes still exist.