An anti-terrorism appellate bench on Thursday served notice to the prosecutor general of Sindh in four appeals filed by the seven men convicted for murdering 19-year-old Sarfraz Shah here.
The appeals were admitted as a right of the convicted men. They were placed before a bench comprising Justice Gulzar Ahmed and Justice Salman Hamid. Messers Mehmood Alam Rizvi, Habib Ahmed, Shaukat Hayat and Aamir Nawaz Warriach advocates are appearing for a civilian and six personnel of the Abdullah Shah Ghazi Rangers.
The men were convicted and sentenced by Bashir Ahmed Khoso, a judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court for Karachi division on March 12. One of the appellants, Shahid Zafar, who fired two shots at Shah, leading to his fatal injuries and death from exsanguination, was sentenced to death while the five other Rangers men and park attendant Afsar Khan were sentenced to life imprisonment for abetting the murder.
The June 8 killing inside a public park at Boat Basin named after Benazir Bhutto spread terror throughout the country and drew public ire against the Rangers for what was perceived as an extrajudicial killing.
(Read: Death for Sarfaraz Shah's killer)
A suo motu notice of the incident was taken by the Supreme Court of Pakistan which ordered the removal of the Sindh chief secretary and director general of the Rangers and also ordered a speedy trial of the case.
The appellants maintain that it was an accidental murder, no terror was caused as the accused were doing their lawful duty of protecting the lives and property of the state and citizens. They maintain that Sarfraz Shah attempted to rob a visitor to the park but was overpowered and handed over to the Rangers. Shah allegedly tried to snatch a G-3 rifle from accused Shahid Zafar. The gun went off accidentally, causing a gaping wound in Shah’s thigh. He died of profuse bleeding while being treated at Jinnah Post-Graduate Medical Centre.
The appellants also question the jurisdiction of the anti-terrorism court to try the case, arguing that as it was a simple murder by accident it was thus triable by an ordinary court of law. The prosecution, however, proved its case before the ATC by arguing that because of this the entire city and nation was shocked and terrorised. The accused men killed Shah with a common intention and after causing the fatal injuries, left him unattended. He was taken to hospital after a considerable delay, ensuring his death.
On Thursday, the SHC appellate bench admitted the appeals for regular hearing and called the record and papers of the case along with the police file. The appellate bench has seven days to decide the appeals.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2011.