KARACHI: Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso of the Anti-Terrorism Court-I has ordered police protection for the witnesses testifying in the 2010 Shershah carnage case.
On October 19, 2010, 13 workers and owners of shops in the Shershah scrap market were killed when gunmen on motorcycles opened indiscriminate fire. Six shopkeepers were injured in the attack, which has been blamed on gangs operating in Lyari.
The trial of the three men charged in the case, Lal Mohammad Magsi, Shafi Mohammad and Aslam Pervez, has been ongoing at the court for several months. Those testifying in the case include police officers. Pakistan does not have a witness protection programme. A draft of a bill to establish a witness protection programme is reportedly pending at the Sindh law department. Witnesses are often highly reluctant to appear at criminal trials and there are numerous incidents of witnesses refusing to identify men during court proceedings that they may have initially identified at a police station. High-profile trials, such as those of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi leader Akram Lahori and the men accused of killing Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar, are held within jail for security reasons.
The First Information Report of the case was filed under sections of the Pakistan Penal Code that includes charges of murder, attempted murder, abetment and extortion.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2012.