(CNN)The brother and cousin of slain social media star Qandeel Baloch are due in court Thursday after being formally indicted for her murder this week.
Brother of Pakistan social media star Qandeel Baloch in court for her murder
Waseem Baloch and Haq Nawaz were charged with murdering the 25-year-old at her family home in the city of Multan in the Pakistani province of Punjab in July this year. She was strangled in her bedroom while her parents slept.
Taxi driver, Abdul Basit, and brother-in-law, Zafar Khosa were also charged with conspiracy to murder and facilitating a crime.
Police spokesperson Nabeela Ghazanfar said Zafar Khosa had fled the country while he was on bail and has been declared an absconder.
Waseem Baloch pleaded not guilty, despite confessing to the crime to local media shortly after the event.
He claimed Qandeel that brought dishonor to the family with her outspoken social media posts and controversial photos. "Girls are born to stay home and follow traditions. My sister never did that," he said.
He added that he had earned his place in heaven by bringing honor to his family.
The case shone a spotlight on the practice of familial forgiveness in Pakistan, where perpetrators of so-called 'honor killings' can walk free if they are pardoned by the victim's family.
In a rare move, prosecutors invoked Section 311 of Pakistan's penal code in the case against Waseem Baloch, making the state a complainant. This meant he could not be pardoned even if the victim's relatives -- in this case, his parents as well -- forgave the killer.
Not that it's something Baloch's father, Azeem, said he could never do. "I shall not forgive," he told CNN. "It is my desire to take revenge."
In October this year, the Pakistan government closed the legal loophole altogether. The bill, which blocks killers from escaping prosecution, passed unanimously in both houses of parliament and is now awaiting official signing into law.
"A vicious circle has now come to an end," Senator Farhatullah Babar told CNN at the time. He said that now, a killer will face a minimum sentence of 25 years in jail.
"No murderer will be able to walk away free even if his parents or family members forgive him for killing his sister, wife or mother in the name of 'honor.'"