All six men, including the Abdullah Shah Ghazi Rangers personnel, charged with killing an unarmed 22-year-old in broad daylight, pleaded innocence in court on Thursday, telling the judge that they had been falsely implicated.
They said that neither were they terrorists nor had they murdered anyone. They were on official duty at the time and had performed their duty, staying within the parameters of the law.
On June 8, the young victim, Sarfraz Shah, was shot in Clifton’s Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park. The incident, captured on tape by a SAMAA TV crew, showed what appeared to be the young man pleading to be taken to a hospital. The footage was aired across Pakistan, sparking an outcry. The case is being heard in Anti-Terrorism Court (I) headed by Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso, who had been conducting day-to-day hearings on the orders of the Supreme Court that took suo motu notice of the case.
In their defence, the Rangers men said that Sarfraz Shah was turned over to them as a dacoit. They said he attempted to snatch one of their rifles, and in the process, shots were fired.
One of the men standing trial, Shahid Zafar, who fired two shots injuring Shah, said that he along with co-accused Afzal Khan gave the victim water and took him to hospital where they remained until he died. He also stated that when the FIR was registered against them, they surrendered voluntarily.
Later, Shahid Zafar submitted a list of three defence witnessess, Colonel Salman of the Pakistan Rangers, the CEO of SAMAA TV or a representative, and Muhammad Saleem, the driver of the Chhipa ambulance that took Shah to Jinnah hospital.
For his part, the driver of the Rangers mobile van, co-accused Manthar Ali, named as a defence witness Alam Zaib, a police official who was allegedly robbed. Co-accused Afsar Khan, a civilian, named Investigating Officer DIG Sultan Khawaja, DSP Altaf Hussain and SIP Nasrullah of Boat Basin as his defence witnesses.
The court asked the accused men to produce the defence witnesses in court on Friday. If the need arises, then any witness can be called as a court witness, the ATC judge said.
Earlier in the day, the judge announced that he was rejecting the request by the defence to summon the chemical examiner and ballistics expert.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 5th, 2011.