The mother of Shazia, a 12-year-old Christian maid whose employers were accused of killing her, has challenged the acquittal of the accused before the Lahore High Court (LHC).
Appellant Nasreen Bibi, said that the accused had practically confessed to the crime but the court had acquitted them regardless.
Nasreen Bibi’s counsel submitted that while the doctors had declared that the cause of Shazia’s death was septicemia, they had also reported that she had suffered 18 injuries to different parts of her body.
According to the court routine, the appeal will be fixed for hearing in 2014, as the LHC is presently dealing with appeals from 2007. An urgent hearing for the case was unavailable.
Nasreen Bibi’s counsel Chaudhery Sikandar Ali Janbaz filed the appeal against the acquittal of Advocate Muhammad Naeem, his son Haris alias Yasir Naeem and his wife Ghazala Naeem for allegedly torturing and killing Shazia.
Additional District and Sessions Judge Chaudhry Ameer Muhammad Khan on November 22, 2010 acquitted the family by invoking powers under Section 265-k of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).
Under the law, the court can acquit the accused at any stage of the proceedings once it is clear that there is no probability of the accused being convicted of any offence. Advocate Sikandar Ali Janbaz told The Express Tribune that Advocate Tariq Khan, who represented the defendants had telephoned him not to pursue their case but he was determined to continue. Janbaz said that he had also faced threats during the trial but did not stop appearing before the court.
Janbaz said he had decided to take up the case after another lawyer had refused to continue with it despite having been paida fee.
Advocate Janbaz said that the trial court had ignored some important points. He said that the defendants had been offering money to the bereaved family which amounted to a confession of guilt.
“The court dismissed an application by the accused, filed under Section 265-K but later acquitted them using its powers under the same section. Above all, the case was decided in haste which createss questions with regards to the verdict”. Janbaz said that on September 28, a challan was submitted before the court and it passed judgment on November 22, the day the last witness recorded his statement.
“The judge did not hear the final arguments of the counsel from either party,” he said.
In the appeal he submitted that although the doctors said that cause of Shazia’s death was septicemia there were also 18 injuries on her left arm and her right knee was fractured.
He also submitted that the accused had informed the appellant about Shazia’s admission to the hospital only after she was pronounced dead. “Why did they not mention her injuries or her disease?” he asked. Janbaz submitted that the 18 injuries on the body of the deceased were altogether ignored by the investigators as well as the trial court.
“The medical evidence supports eye-witness statements and the evidence corroborates the extra-judicial confession,” he said. He said according to the testimony of the prosecution witnesses the accused were linked to the crime and the case stood proved. “The judgment of the trial court is based on surmise and conjecture and not on a sound appraisal of evidence,” he said.
Nasreen Bibi had lodged an FIR with Defence-A Police Station Lahore on January 22, 2010, alleging that the accused had killed her daughter after torturing and raping her.
However the medical board found no evidence of rape and no fractures from the autopsy. The board said that all the victim’s finger nails had been removed due to a fungal infection and that the fingers of both hands were infected and in difference stages of healing. There were 18 superficial wounds on different parts of the body.
The board said that all the injuries were ante-mortem and that 13 injures were caused by blunt objects while the rest were by sharp-edged weapons.
The board concluded that in light of the report of a bacteriologist and the presence of non-fatal injures of variable duration on the body of the deceased, that the cause of death was septicemia due to acute chronic inflammatory lung degeneration.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2011.