Wali Babar case: Slain eyewitness had to testify today

Published: November 13, 2012

Babar’s murder case has been delayed due to security concerns for witnesses and targeted killings of those who come close to testify against the suspects.

KARACHI: The last eyewitness of Geo Television reporter Wali Babar’s assassination, Haider Ali, who was shot dead on Sunday, was to testify in the trial court today.

The first witness to take the fall was Rajab Bengali who came forth as an eyewitness within days after the journalist was murdered. Bengali was shot dead on January 29, 2011. A few days later, on January 31, 2011, police constable Asif Rafiq, who had noted down the registration plate number of the car used in the attack and informed the authorities, was gunned down.

The third eyewitness, head constable Arshad Kundi, who helped the investigators trace the location of the suspects’ car in Mobina Town was murdered on March 20, 2011. Apart from the eyewitnesses, one brother and a cousin of the case investigator, inspector Shafiq Tanoli, have also been shot dead.

Of the 23 witnesses listed in the case, only seven have deposed so far and due to security concerns, the trial is now being held inside the Karachi Central Prison by the Anti-Terrorism Court III. The last hearing was held on November 7.

Ali’s murder takes place even after the Sindh High Court ordered that the government provide security to the witnesses and lawyers involved in the case. The trial court was also directed to wrap up the case within 45 days on October 19.

The ATC III prosecutor, Abdul Maroof, described Ali as the only remaining eyewitness in the case, who had also identified the suspects allegedly involved in the journalist’s murder before a judicial magistrate. Haider Ali was supposed to be underground. “This is how strong their [criminals] network is. They located him and killed him just two days before he was supposed to appear in the court,” Maroof told The Express Tribune. “It is negligence on part of police for not protecting him.”

The prosecutor brushed aside unconfirmed reports suggesting Ali was a police informer.

According to Section 21 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, the court may order protection of people involved in proceedings and not disclose their identities. It also states that during any inquiry, investigation or court proceedings, adequate protection shall be provided to a witness identifying any accused.

President Asif Ali Zardari has recently asked for a witness protection law to be introduced as Pakistan has no witness protection programme, which causes witnesses in many high-profile cases to either retract their testimonies or refuse to identify suspects.

The murder of another key witness in Wali Babar’s case would have a negative impact on other witnesses in terrorism cases, Maroof speculated. “It will discourage people [from coming forward], who are already reluctant to be witnesses,” he said.

Other witnesses are Wali Babar’s brother – who is also the complainant and has testified already – and government witnesses. The court also has a confessional statement from one of the alleged perpetrators.

The suspects – Mohammad Shahrukh alias Mani, Faisal alias Nafsiyati, Mohammad Shakeel, Naveed Shah alias Polka and Syed Mohammad Ali Rizvi – have all been charged with murder on common intent and under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. A prime suspect, Liaquat alias Tension, was killed in an alleged encounter with Darakshan police in March. Five other men – Kamran alias Zeeshan, Junaid, Saeed, Liaquat and Faisal – have been declared fugitives. The Liaquatabad supermarket police had registered the murder case of Wali Khan Babar, who was shot dead on January 13, 2011.

With additional input from Faraz Khan

Published in The Express Tribune, November 13th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (8)

  • Hairaan
    Nov 13, 2012 - 11:59AM

    It appears someone is systematically eliminating all the eye witnesses. Who is that someone?

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  • CallArmyinKhi
    Nov 13, 2012 - 2:08PM

    Mr.Zulfiqar Mirza did point fingers at the murderers..and we know who did it! howcome the court taking so long?!

    Recommend

  • Feroz
    Nov 13, 2012 - 2:20PM

    The way the witnesses are being threatened or knocked off tells us that this is not the work of a criminal gang but a much more powerful force. No more need be said.Recommend

  • Sheikh Salman
    Nov 13, 2012 - 2:25PM

    Its pity and shame that criminal who are in jails for death sentences for years are not being hanged to death. This is in criminal minds so they try to terrifying the people by assassinating as they know no one will stood against them. Its security concern for lot of people like me that if punished have not served to the culprits same things happen every day and to anyone. “Crush Criminals Harsher Punishments”

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  • Ahmad
    Nov 13, 2012 - 3:09PM

    All 3 coalition parties in sind are to be repsonsible. for worst law and order
    Please depute Saudi Arab’s police for 1 year in karachi with full authority. All will be well soon in karachi.

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  • Tahir
    Nov 13, 2012 - 6:28PM

    @Ahmed agreed with you Saudi Police would have a good option. I have been in SA since three years. How Saudi Police tackle the situation in Abqaiq is commendable.

    Recommend

  • Kamran Naqvi
    Nov 13, 2012 - 10:43PM

    Justice delayed is justice Denied!!

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  • Muzaffar
    Nov 14, 2012 - 11:58AM

    Altaf ‘Bhai’ ka Pakistan ??

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