Accepting the final charge sheet of the Sarfaraz Shah case, Administrative Judge (AJ) Maqbool Baqar has entrusted the trial to the Anti-Terrorism Courts I, headed by Judge Bashir Khoso. It will begin on Monday.
The Investigation Officer (IO), DIG Sultan A Khawaja, was appointed specifically to submit the case’s report and charge sheet, which he did successfully within the timeframe provided by the Supreme Court.
After taking suo motu notice of the extrajudicial killing of the 19-year-old Shah at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park, Clifton, the apex court ordered on June 10 for a day-to-day trial to be held and directed the police to wrap up the investigations in seven days, ie by June 17.
DIG Khawaja announced on Friday that the investigations were complete but he had asked for one more day to submit the report.
On Saturday, he appeared in the AJ’s chamber along with Special Public Prosecutor Arshad Iqbal Cheema and said that all the papers were scrutinised and the evidence evaluated.
Later, Cheema told the media that the prosecution has submitted a list of 46 prosecution witnesses, including two eyewitnesses. Every single piece of evidence has been examined and collected and the forensic evidence has matched [the articles collected from the crime scene],” he said. “Even the video that exposed the crime was examined by experts from Pakistan Television who have certified that the video is original and not edited. There is no cut and paste in it, the experts report said.”
The case evidence consists of 14 articles, including the crime weapon and bullet shells. The shells have matched the firing pin of the murder weapon, he announced. Other evidence includes blood-stained soil. “Every report, including the chemical examination report, would corroborate the prosecution’s case.”
According to procedure, the case file would be sent to the Anti-Terrorism Court I for trial on Monday which will then issue a notice to the accused who are in judicial custody, Cheema explained to the media. The accused would be given an opportunity to hire a lawyer and if they fail, the court has the powers to appoint a counsel for them.
Six Rangers personnel — sub-inspector Bahadur Rehman, Lance Naik Liaquat Ali, Sepoy Mohammad Tariq, van driver Manthar Ali, Shahid Zafar and Afzal Khan — and a civilian, Afsar Khan, stand accused in the shooting of Sarfaraz Shah on June 8.
The case against the men has been registered under Section 302/34 (for murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act. If convicted, the men could face the death sentence. The victim had two entry wounds and seven exit wounds, the medical report said as Sarfaraz was shot at close range by a G-3 rifle.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2011.