SIALKOT: A division bench of the Lahore High Court (LHC) headed by the chief justice suspended the three-year sentence awarded to former district police officer (DPO) Sialkot Waqar Chohan by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in the Sialkot lynching case and released him on bail.
The court accepted Chohan’s bail application after he furnished surety bonds worth Rs100,000. Chohan and eight other policemen were awarded a three-year sentence on charges of criminal negligence which resulted in the public lynching of Mughees and Muneeb, by an ATC in Gujranwala. All the convicts had challenged the trial court’s verdict in the LHC.
Chohan submitted in his application that in light of the Supreme Court’s verdict, a convict sentenced to less than five years’ imprisonment may be released on bail. He argued that he was not present at the time of the incident and the complainant had implicated him in the case with mala fide intention. The law officer opposed his release on bail and contended that Chohan was the main culprit since the two brothers were murdered due to his negligence.
However, the court accepted Chohan’s petition and suspended his sentence. An uncle of victim Mughees and Muneeb filed an affidavit in the court submitting that he had no objection if Chohan were released on bail. He said the DPO was an honest officer and had been implicated in the case.
News cameras captured the footage of the mob battering the two brothers to death, while the police witnessed the scene. The images were replayed on various networks and caused a public outcry. The trial court had arraigned former SHO Rana Ilyas, ASI Waris and constables Tariq Mehmood, Muhammad Akram, Mubarak Ali, Muhammad Yasin, Muhammad Bashir, and Naseer Ahmed on September 19, for neglecting to intercede on the brothers’ behalf and save them from falling prey to vigilante justice.
The ATC’s judgment has raised the question whether an officer may be convicted for negligence and sentenced to prison when it was his subordinates who failed to act on time.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 4th, 2011.
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