An appeal seeking harsher punishment for the six people sentenced to life in prison for their involvement in the Sarfraz Shah murder was filed with the Sindh High Court on Saturday. The seventh man involved in the case, Shahid Zafar, has already been sentenced to death by an Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC-1) on August 12.
Javaid Ahmed Chattari advocate filed the appeal by complainant Syed Salik Shah, Sarfraz Shah’s elder brother.
The pair feels that the court showed leniency towards the six co-accused men by giving them a lesser sentence even though their intention was the same as Zafar’s as proven under Section 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code.
(Read: Death for Sarfraz Shah's killers)
They claimed that the men’s body language in the video of Sarfraz Shah being shot in the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park was self-explanatory and showed their intention of murdering Shah. The complainants said that the respondents were relishing the hue and cry and the injured Shah’s calls for mercy and stood around till he died instead of rushing him to the hospital.
They asked the appellate bench to enhance the sentence of the respondents, Muhammad Afzal Khan, Inspector Baha-ur-Rehman, Liaquat Ali, Muhammad Tariq, Manthar Ali and the civilian, Afsar Khan, from life terms to death sentences.
At the final hearing of the two-month-long case on August 12, ATC-I judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso found accused Zafar, of the Abdullah Shah Ghazi unit of Pakistan Rangers, guilty of causing fatal injury to deceased Sarfraz Shah and sentenced him to death. Zafar, 35, has also been ordered to pay Rs200,000 as compensation to Shah’s legal heirs. Five other members of the same Pakistan Rangers unit and a civilian Afsar Khan were sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to pay Rs100,000 each to Shah’s heirs.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan took suo motu notice of the incident and ordered the removal of Sindh Chief Secretary and DG Rangers. It also ordered a speedy trial.
The convicted men have also filed four separate appeals which have been admitted for regular hearing. They maintain that it was an accidental murder and no act of terrorism was caused as they were doing their duty and protecting the lives and property of the state and its citizens.
(Read: Power to Rangers)
They claim that Sarfraz Shah had attempted to rob a visitor at the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park but was overpowered and handed over to the Rangers. The deceased allegedly tried to snatch a G-3 rifle from Zafar. In their version of events, the gun went off accidentally, causing a gaping wound in Shah’s thigh. Shah later died of profuse bleeding at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).
The men have also questioned the jurisdiction of the ATC to try the case as they feel it was an accidental murder, which puts it under the jurisdiction of an ordinary court of law.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 28th, 2011.