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Brother acquitted for 'honor killing' of Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch

Brother acquitted for honor killing of Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch

The brother of a Pakistani social media star, who was murdered in one of the country's most notorious "honour killings," was acquitted by the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday after serving less than six years in prison, his lawyer said.

"He has been fully acquitted" by a court in the eastern city of Multan, his lawyer Sardar Mehboob told AFP, without giving further details.

The court order has yet to be made public.

Before her death in 2016, Qandeel Baloch, 26, became famous for her defiant posts that were deemed suggestive and immoral by many in the country.

Her brother Muhammad Waseem was arrested and later sentenced to life in prison by a trial court for strangling her, brazenly telling the press he had no remorse for the slaying because her behaviour was "intolerable".

The case became the most high profile "honour killing" of recent years -- where women are dealt lethal punishment by male relatives for purportedly bringing "shame" to the reputation of a family.

Under a recent Pakistani law change, perpetrators are no longer able to seek forgiveness from the victim's family -- sometimes their own family -- and to have their sentences commuted.

However, whether or not a murder is defined as a crime of honour is left to the judge's discretion, meaning killers can theoretically claim a different motive and still be pardoned.

In Baloch's case, her parents initially insisted their son would be given no absolution. But they later changed their minds and said they wanted him to be forgiven.

Baloch had become known for speaking of trying to change "the typical orthodox mindset" of people in Pakistan. She continued to post content — that was seen as provocative — despite receiving frequent abuse and death threats.

In 2016, 26-year-old Baloch was found strangled in her home near the city of Multan in Punjab province.

Her brother confessed to killing her after she posted racy pictures on Facebook of herself with a Muslim cleric, Mufti Abdul Qawi.

Abdul Qawi was arrested for alleged involvement in the murder but was later freed due to lack of evidence.

Baloch's killing triggered protests across Pakistan and sparked an outpouring of grief on social media.

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