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Pak CJ orders probe

Pakistan’s top judge has ordered a court hearing into the public flogging of a veiled woman, filmed on an amateur video, that has raised alarm about the tightening grip of Islamist hardliners.

world Updated: Apr 05, 2009 00:42 IST

Pakistan’s top judge has ordered a court hearing into the public flogging of a veiled woman, filmed on an amateur video, that has raised alarm about the tightening grip of Islamist hardliners.

The details of her alleged crime were confused, but residents in her village of Kala Killey in Swat, said the woman was accused of illicit relations with an electrician and forced to marry him as part of her punishment.

The footage, apparently from a mobile phone, shows two men pinning down a burka-clad woman by her feet and shoulders, while a bearded man in a turban flogs her 34 times with a whip as she screams in agony.

Chief justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry has ordered the girl to be produced in court at a hearing set for Monday, according to a Supreme Court statement.

He has also demanded that government and regional officials from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) appear in person at the hearing.

“Chief justice of Pakistan has been pleased to order that... the matter be fixed before a larger bench on Monday,” said a statement from the court.

“Chaudhry has taken a serious notice of the video clipping on TV for violation of fundamental rights, guaranteed under the constitution of Pakistan,” it added in English.

Local government officials and residents said the video was filmed on January 3, some weeks before the government signed a controversial agreement with a pro-Taliban cleric to allow sharia law in Swat region.