Image: Pakistani gang rape victim Mukhtar Mai, center.
Farooq Naeem  /  AFP - Getty Images
Pakistani gang rape victim Mukhtar Mai, center, smiles, flanked by well-wishers and journalists, as she leaves the country's Supreme Court in Islamabad, on Tuesday. 
updated 6/28/2005 8:12:00 AM ET 2005-06-28T12:12:00

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered 13 suspects in a high-profile gang-rape case re-arrested Tuesday and overturned lower court rulings that had acquitted them, court officials and a lawyer in the case said.

The ruling came a day after the victim, Mukhtar Mai, appealed the acquittals in a dramatic appearance at the court. The decision cast aside a series of conflicting rulings by several lower courts that had drawn international condemnation.

“I am happy and I hope those who humiliated me will be punished,” Mai told reporters after emerging from the Supreme Court following Tuesday’s ruling.

Mai was gang-raped in June 2002 on orders from a council of village elders, allegedly in retaliation for her 13-year-old brother’s illicit affair with a woman from a higher caste family. The case drew international headlines, highlighting the appalling treatment of women in some parts of this deeply conservative country.

A trial court in 2002 sentenced six men to death and acquitted eight others. But in March of this year, the High Court in Punjab province, where Mai’s home village is located, acquitted the five men and reduced the death sentence of the sixth man to life in prison.

The Supreme Court in its ruling Tuesday suspended the High Court decision. It said it would hear appeals from both Mai and the suspects at a later date, said Malik Salim, a lawyer for one of the suspects.

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