The Supreme Court of Pakistan has slashed the sentences of former judge Raja Khurram Ali and his wife, Maheen Zafar, from three years to one in the so-called Tayyaba abuse case that sent shockwaves through the country.
The couple, who were convicted of abusing a 10-year-old maid named Tayyaba, who had been sent to work for them in the capital, Islamabad, could soon walk free, the BBC reports.
Prosecutors are set to appeal the decision.
The trial court in April 2018 had initially sentenced the former sessions and appeals judge and his wife to one year in prison for neglecting an injured child. However, following an appeal by prosecutors, in June 2018 the Islamabad High Court increased their initial sentence to three years, which included six months for trying to destroy evidence, Pakistan’s The Express Tribune newspaper reports.
The supreme court ruling restores the initial sentence.
Tayyaba had been working for the couple for two years when neighbors alerted authorities to her mistreatment in December 2016.
Pictures of the battered and bloody girl sent shockwaves through Pakistani social media. The Pakistan Institute of Medical Science said she had also suffered burns to her hands and feet, the BBC reported.
The girl was allegedly beaten for losing a broom.
Although the couple maintained their innocence, in January 2017 they reached an undisclosed agreement with the family, after which the victim’s father attempted to get the charges dropped.
While Pakistani law does allow for victims’ families to forgive perpetrators in a number of serious crimes, in this instance Tayyaba’s family was not allowed to drop the charges.
The case has brought attention to the plight of the tens of thousands of children legally employed as maids in Pakistan.