After two witnesses retracted their statements in Naqeebullah murder case, another prosecution witness, Afsar Khan, who had claimed of visiting an accused couldn't identify him at the hearing at Karachi Central Jail on Tuesday.
Khan appeared before an anti-terrorism court (ATC) to record his statement. The said accused was also presented before the court, among other facing charges of being involved in Naqeebullah's murder.
The court inquired from Khan whether the accused police official whom he had claimed of visiting, as mentioned in his statement to police was present in the courtroom. After keenly observing all the accused present in the room, the witness maintained that none of them was the official he had visited.
At this, cross-questioning Khan, accused Rao Anwar's counsel, Advocate Amir Mansoob, contented that the witness' statement to the court and police didn't match.
"In your statement to the court, you have mentioned year and dates, but there is no mention of these details in the statement to police," he said.
Then, quoting Khan, he said that since the witness was illiterate, he must have put a thumbprint on the paper bearing his statement rather than signing it.
"I don't remember," Khan replied.
At this, Advocate Mansoon asked, "Do you have the copy of your statement to police," adding that the statement was handwritten.
In reply, Khan admitted that the statement, in fact, was handwritten but denied having a copy of it.
Following this, the petitioner's counsel, Salahuddin Panhwar excused himself from cross-examining witness Shahzada Jahangir's statement.
"Many of the records and documents pertaining to the case are yet to be received from Dr Rizwan," he said, and prayed the court that he be allowed to defer the cross-examination until he received the documents.
At this, Advocate Mansoob argued that Jahangir had claimed that he had visited the crime scene and was asked by the relevant SHO to only note the details of the crime scene and evidence present there.
"The documents don't have Jahangir's signatures, then why can't his statement be cross-examined?" he questioned.
He went on to say that while the petitioner's side continued to claim the media that the case was facing delays due to the absence of the accused's counsels, but "the reality is that the persecution has realised it is left with nothing [to carry the case forward] and doesn't want to pursue it any longer."
"This is the reason they continue to request for extensions on the pretext of not having relevant documents or witnesses' absence," he alleged.
In response, Panhwar said that more witnesses and the list of their names would be presented before the court after Eid.
"Dr Rizwan will be here on Eid and the documents will be taken from him," he added.
Directing the investigation officer to present all the documents at the next hearing, the court adjourned the hearing.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2020.
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