A trial court in Islamabad on Wednesday postponed the indictment of Zahir Jaffer and the other 11 suspects in the Noor Muqqadam murder case for one day and directed the prosecution to provide all statements and testimonies to the suspects’ lawyers.
The trial court postponed the trial of the suspects after their lawyers sought statements, testimonies and other related evidence against the defendants before the initiation of the trial. The defence lawyers said that the provision of all related evidence and testimonies to the defendants was a pre-requisite for a fair trial under section 10.
At the outset of the hearing, accused Zahir Jaffar pleaded for giving a chance to speak independently as he said that he was under detention for the last three months. He inquired from the court what was its plan and when the verdict will be given.
At this, Additional Sessions Judge Atta Rabani said that courts do not have plans but they conduct proceedings.
The court asked the suspect to communicate through his lawyer and he will be informed about the update through his lawyer.
Zahir complaint to the court that the US embassy had offered him to provide legal assistance through a lawyer of his choice to be selected from a list but the list was not provided to him in jail.
At this, the court asked who was Zahir’s lawyer? To which Raja Rizwan Abbasi, who was representing Zakir Jaffer, said the suspect’s parents were not hiring counsel for him.
He said that the court should either appoint a government lawyer for Zahir or give him time to do so before framing a charge against him.
When the prime suspect’s father, Zakir Jaffer, came to the rostrum, the court inquired if he has hired a lawyer for his son. The father replied that Ansar Mirza was his son’s lawyer. However, he may not have been communicated properly.
During the hearing, defence lawyers argued that article 10-A ensured free trial and requested the bench to grant at least four weeks’ time for the indictment as a week’s time was not sufficient.
They added the suspects did not know what evidence was available against them along with the challan.
The lawyers said the right to a fair trial could not be carried out by hiding information from the defendants.
They demanded forensic reports, CCTV footage, and other records against the suspects before the indictment. The counsel said that the suspects should be given copies of all evidence as it was their legal right.
The plaintiff’s lawyer, Shah Khawar, objected to this and said CCTV footage, USB data and other recordings were sealed and they could not be provided to the suspects.
After the arguments, the trial court reserved the verdict on three different applications and adjourned the hearing until Thursday.
Noor Muqqadam, the 27-year-old daughter of a former Pakistani diplomat, was murdered in Islamabad’s F-7/4 neighbourhood on July 20. Zahir Jaffer was arrested at the crime scene on the same day. The incident had also sparked public outrage and grabbed media attention.
Zahir Jaffer’s parents and their servants are also under arrest on charges of abetment and hiding evidence.
According to the interim challan, Therapy Works employees tried to cover up the crime and destroyed the evidence. A Therapy Works employee, who was injured by Jaffer, did not even register the incident and it had been mentioned as a road accident in his medical slip, the interim challan said.
It said that photos and fingerprints stored in the DVR also belong to the suspect.
According to the August 12 DNA report, the prime suspect was found to have raped the victim. Reports said that no effects of poison or drugs were found in the victim.
The interim challan had also said that the victim jumped from the washroom and ran away towards the gate. However, the janitor at the gate did not help her. The gardener, Jan Mohammad, also did not open the gate. Had he opened the door, Noor could have run away, the interim challan said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 7th, 2021.
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