MULTAN, Pakistan – Four Pakistani men were hanged Thursday for gang-raping a Christian woman at gunpoint during a 1999 robbery, a jail official said.
Police arrested the men, all Muslim, shortly after attacking the woman in Faisalabad, an industrial city about 180 miles east of Multan, a main city in Punjab province. There appeared to be no sectarian motive for the crime.
An anti-terror court sentenced the men to death after convicting them of raping the woman and robbing her family of about $1,000. The men lost appeals last year, including a mercy plea to President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
Faisalabad Jail superintendent Yousaf Ghauri said the men were hanged at the high-security prison. Their bodies were handed over to relatives waiting outside the jail.
Those hanged were identified as Umar Hayat, 35, Mubarak Ali, 36, Mohammed Ashraf, 32 and Mohammed Shahzad, 31.
The victim's family did not attend the executions, Ghauri said. Her father had told the court that the four took turns in raping his daughter inside his home and threatened to kill him if he raised the alarm, Ghauri said.
Christians are a small minority in Pakistan, a deeply conservative Muslim nation of 150 million people, and the two groups generally live together peacefully.
But violence is common against women, hundreds of whom are raped or killed every year in so-called "honor" attacks over behavior deemed inappropriate, including extramarital affairs or marriage without a family's consent.
Many culprits escape punishment either because of flaws in the legal system or the reluctance of victims or family members to come forward because of the stigma associated with such attacks.
In recent years, the government has urged victims to come forward and demanded authorities probe such crimes to try stamp out attacks on women.