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Pakistani Rape Survivor Fearful of Freed Attackers

By Khalid Tanveer
Associated Press
Sunday, March 6, 2005; Page A22

MULTAN, Pakistan, March 5 -- A Pakistani woman who was gang-raped in a retaliatory "honor" attack said Saturday that she is fearful after several of her suspected attackers were ordered released from prison.

Mukhtar Mai was raped in June 2002 by four men on the orders of a village council that wanted to punish her family.

Mukhtar Mai, who says she was gang-raped by members of another clan, weeps after learning that a court has freed some of her alleged attackers. (Khalid Tanveer -- AP)

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The assault was ordered after Mai's brother was accused of having sex with a woman from a more prominent family, though Mai's family says the allegations were fabricated to cover up a sex assault against the boy by several men.

Mai's story captured worldwide attention and prompted Pakistan's president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to order the culprits' arrest. Within days six men were behind bars, and a judge found them guilty and sentenced them to death.

On Thursday, however, an appeals court in Multan in Pakistan's eastern Punjab province ordered five of the men released, citing a lack of evidence. The other had his death sentence reduced to life in prison.

While the five have yet to be released from prison, Mai said she would not be safe in her village of Meerwala -- 350 miles southwest of the capital, Islamabad -- where the crime took place.

Mai, a 33-year-old teacher, said she would not leave her village and would appeal the court's decision.

"I will fight a legal battle to death. I want all those people who molested me hanged," she said.

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