France convicts Pakistani to 20 years for torching ex

13th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

In 2005, a Pakistani man set his ex-girlfriend on fire for breaking up with him.

PARIS – A French court has sentenced a Pakistani man to 20 years in jail for torching his ex-girlfriend in a Paris suburb after she refused to marry him.

Mushtaq Amer Butt, 28, had doused Chahrazad Belayni with petrol on 13 November 2005 and set her alight in a street of Neuilly-sur-Marne on her way to work.

Butt showed no emotion after judges at a criminal court in Bobigny, outside Paris, ruled late Thursday that he was guilty of attempted murder and granted the prosecution's request for a 20-year jail sentence.

Belayni, a 21-year-old Morrocan-born woman who suffered burns to 60 percent of her body, broke down in tears and welcomed the verdict as a "major step in the fight to end violence against women".

The victim had been made honorary vice-president of the women's rights group Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores Nor Submissive), one of France's most vocal defenders of Muslim women's rights.

Summing up her case on Thursday, prosecutor Camille Palluel had argued that Butt had meticulously prepared his "plan to end the life" of his former girlfriend in a misguided bid to "restore his honour".

During the three-day trial, Butt had implored Belayni to forgive him and testified that he had confronted her with the intention of committing self-immolation.

"I had brought it for me, not for her," he said of the fuel canister.

Belayni recounted how she threw herself to the ground and tried to put out the flames after Mutt set her on fire and left her in agony.

A bypasser called for help and she was taken to hospital where she remained in coma for several weeks.

Belayni has since undergone several painful skin grafts and has been in fragile psychological state. In late 2006, she tried to commit suicide.

"I would like to understand why?" she told reporters after the verdict was delivered. "I do not feel hate. I am not a bad person," she said.

Charged with attempted murder, Butt fled to Pakistan and turned himself in November 2006.

Butt was one of four children born to a Pakistani restaurant owner who moved to France in 1994. He had met Belayni in a clothing store where he worked in June 2004.

After several months of dating, the relationship had turned sour and Belayni had told him to "get out of her life" just weeks before Butt had returned to see her, armed with a jerrycan.

[AFP / Expatica]

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