Five of the six men who were condemned to serving life terms by an anti-terrorism court for killing 19-year-old Sarfraz Shah, filed two separate but identical appeals, challenging their conviction and sentence.
One of the appeals was filed by Syed Mehmood Alam Rizvi advocate on behalf of the Rangers’ Muhammad Afzal, Baha-ur Rahman and Liaquat Ali, while the other was filed by Habib Ahmed on behalf of Muhammad Tariq and Manthar Ali.
At the outset, the appeals questioned the jurisdiction of the anti-terrorism court to try the case, something the defence had repeatedly brought up during the hearings. They maintained that as no terrorism was involved or created, the case should have gone to an ordinary court like a sessions court.
The appeals said that the ingredients of the offence as defined in section 6(1)(2)(a), which are punishable under Section 7(a) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, were missing in this case. They argued that they were challenging the judgment as they felt it went contrary to the facts of the case and the relevant laws.
There were material contradictions in the evidence of the prosecution witnesses which go to the root of this case and the trial court had wrongly held that the men had shared the intention to kill, the appeals said. The trial court did not appreciate the fact that the prosecution has failed to prove a case against the accused men, by adducing tangible evidence beyond reasonable doubt.
It was also contended that the trial court has used inadmissible evidence to convict and sentence them. The judgment was made against them under the influence of a DVD produced by the prosecution. They were convicted merely on the basis of presumptions, conjectures and surmises and thus were entitled to the benefit of doubt.
The appeals filed on Wednesday are likely to be clubbed together with one that was filed a day earlier by Afsar Khan. A fourth appeal by Shahid Zafar, who was given the death sentence for firing the shot that killed Sarfraz Shah, is likely to be filed on Thursday, the last day for them to appeal against the ATC’s judgment.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2011.