Brother of social media star Qandeel Baloch is jailed for her murder

Pakistani court sentences Mohammed Wasim Azeem to life but acquits four others

A Pakistani court has convicted the brother of the social media star Qandeel Baloch of her murder and sentenced him to life in prison.

Baloch, 26, was found strangled in 2016 in her home near the city of Multan. She was killed shortly after posting risque pictures on Facebook of herself with a Muslim cleric, Mufti Abdul Qawi, who was later arrested for his alleged involvement in the murder.

Balochs brother Mohammed Wasim Azeem had confessed to killing her, telling reporters he had no remorse, of course he had murdered her, and her behaviour had been intolerable.

Their father blamed the cleric for instigating the killing, in which Azeem drugged and strangled his sister as their parents slept downstairs.

Mohammed Wasim Azeem, Balochs brother, is escorted by police to court. Photograph: Faisal Kareem/EPA

A judge in Multan acquitted four other suspects on Friday, including Qawi, whose supporters showered him with rose petals as he left the court. He told reporters he was innocent and said Baloch should have not been killed. Islam does not allow the killing of any innocent person.

Nearly 1,000 Pakistani women are murdered by close relatives each year in so-called honour killings for violating conservative norms on love and marriage.

Born Fauzia Azeem, Baloch changed her name and became a provocative social media star after rising from a poor farming family and escaping an abusive marriage, in which her husband burned and beat her. Shortly after her murder, Muhammed Azeem, her father, was adamant that he loved his daughters, supported everything Baloch had done and had raised his daughters be independent young women.

Balochs mother, Anwar Bibi, cried as she spoke to reporters outside the court after the sentencing.

Qandeel was helping us financially and she was giving us money to run our kitchen. She used to pay the rent for our house, but with her sudden murder by my son, our one and only source of income also ended, she said.

After nationwide outcry over Balochs death, Pakistans parliament made legal changes in 2016 giving a mandatory 25-year prison sentence to anyone convicted of a so-called honour killing.

Women have been burned, shot, stabbed and strangled for supposed offences such as choosing their own husband or bringing shame on their family.

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Watch our documentary – Qandeel: the life, death and impact of Pakistans working class icon

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