Afsar Khan, who was sentenced to life in prison in the Sarfraz Shah murder case, filed his appeal against the verdict on Tuesday by arguing that the investigators failed to find out why he had handed the young man over to the Rangers in the first place.
(Read: In swift trial, Rangers man is sentenced to death)
In a twist to the tale, his lawyer Chaudhry Aamir Nawaz Warraich introduced a new character named Abdul Ghafoor. He was the man who helped park visitor Alam Zaib overpower the teenager who was allegedly robbing Alam Zaib, a police head constable, and his girlfriend Hira.
Warraich argued that his client was innocent as he only turned the young man over to the Rangers and went away. He was not party to the firing or the death. There was no common intention to kill either. Khan did not know who foisted a dummy pistol on Shah, his lawyer argued.
The appeal said that Afsar Khan had been working as a chowkidar in the park for two years and no complaints were registered against him and neither did he have a criminal record.
The prosecution hid circumstantial evidence and the investigators failed to find out why Khan had apprehended Shah. This missing link in the chain of events, that led to the firing and his death, shows mala fide intentions in the prosecution’s story, which was “a castle in the air”, said Khan’s appeal, which was filed well within the seven-day limit.
(Read: Rangers shooting: Youth was unarmed when shot)
He is appealing against the verdict passed by Anti-Terrorism Court judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso who also sentenced Shahid Zafar to death and four other men of the Abdullah Shah Ghazi Rangers to life in prison on Friday for killing the unarmed Syed Sarfraz Shah on June 8 inside Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto Park off Boat Basin.
The Sindh police and its investigators protected the department’s reputation by concealing the alleged robbery involving head constable Alam Zaib and Shah, the appeal maintains.
Alam Zaib was examined and his statement was recorded by DIG Sultan Khawaja, the inquiry officer appointed by the Supreme Court. But he was kept out of the entire case by the police to protect their reputation as the Pakistan Rangers faced the wrath of citizens, the appeal said.
The trial court shifted the burden of proof onto the accused men, while it always lies with the prosecution, the appeal said. The prosecution witnessses were highly interested. Some of them deposed on the pretext of humanitarian grounds but falsely implicated the accused and said they spread terror.
The prosecution deliberately and intentionally concealed some private witnesses and facts in the case, Warraich stated. There were serious improvements and concealments on the part of the prosecution witnesses, making them untrustworthy and unreliable and thus the benefit of innocence should go to the appellants.
The trial court ignored the cross examination. The prosecution also changed its version which was initially set up in the FIR. (Two FIRs were filed against Sarfraz Shah on charges of attempted robbery and being in possession of an unlicensed TT pistol). The counsel questioned the legal authority of the PTV expert who gave an opinion on the video recording by a cameraman of a television channel and declared that it was “tampered” with. The expert’s opinion carries no weight as he was not notified by the government, Warraich argued.
About terrorism, the appeal said that accused did not spread any terror. Actually, terrorism was created by the media. If they had not played the video, no terrorism would have been created.
Warraich maintained that the trial court erred in the law as well as on the facts. The appeal prayed to the court to acquit Afsar Khan as he was innocent. The appeal was filed in the appellate bench for the ATCs. The appeals for the other Rangers men is expected to be filed today and Shahid Zafar’s the day after. They will be clubbed together. Interestingly, Warraich did not bring up the challenge to the ATC’s jurisdiction in the appeal.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 17th, 2011.
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