The verdict of the Shahzeb Khan murder case, which has been going on a daily basis at the anti-terrorism courts, will be announced today (Friday).
The prime suspect in the murder of 20-year-old Shahzeb, Shahrukh Jatoi, went to the high court on Thursday to restrain the anti-terrorism courts (ATC) from announcing the verdict until the controversy over his actual age is resolved. The high court turned down, however, his request. The two judges did, however, issue notices to the ATC-III for its comments on the dismissal of Jatoi’s plea to re-determine his age.
The suspect’s lawyer, Shaukat Hayat, told the judges that they pleaded the trial court to hold Shahruk’s trial separately from the other co-accused as they were all adults. They also requested an extension of other legal concessions prescribed under the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000 for minor suspects, claiming that Shahrukh was still under 18 years old.
The ATC dismissed, however, the plea based on a report prepared by a special medical board, which had on court’s order conducted the suspect’s ossification test and declared that he was between 19 and 20 years old.
Hayat recalled that the trial court’s order was challenged before the Sindh High Court, which had on May 25 directed the ATC judge to determine his age through a re-examination of his two passports, birth certificates issued by a private hospital and municipal authorities, a B-Form issued by the National Database Registration Authority and a school-leaving certificate issued by Aitchison College, Lahore.
Once again, the trial court declared Shahrukh as an adult through its judgment passed on June 3. It clarified that he was not entitled to legal concessions reserved for juveniles.
“The anti-terrorism court failed to appreciate the facts and laws involved in the case and passed the impugned order,” the lawyer argued, adding that the ATC order was not in light of the high court’s order, therefore, it was no more sustainable under the law.
The lawyer requested the ATC withhold its verdict but Justice Ahmed Ali M. Sheikh, who was heading the bench, turned down the request.
ATC-III judge Ghulam Mustafa Memon is due to announce today the verdict of the case, which was reserved on Monday.
On December 25, last year, Shahzeb Khan, 20, was gunned down allegedly by Shahrukh, who was accompanied by his friends, Siraj and Sajjad Talpur. The young men allegedly had a fight after the Talpur’s servant, Ghulam Murtaza Lashari, teased Shahzeb’s sister.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2013.