KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) reserved the verdict in the murder of 19-year-old Sarfaraz Shah after the state prosecutor called for maintaining the sentences handed down by the anti-terrorism court.
A day earlier the victim’s family had withdrawn its plea seeking enhancement of the sentences awarded to the convict, as they have now decided to forgive all of them in the name of God.
Shah was shot twice by the Rangers personnel and was left to die in the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park in Clifton on June 8, 2011. Initially, the Rangers claimed to have killed a robber in an encounter but their claim was refuted after a video footage, incidentally recorded by a private TV channel’s cameraman, was televised nationwide.
Sub-Inspector Bahur Rehman, Lance Naik Liaquat Ali, constable Mohammad Tariq, constable Minthar Ali, constable Mohammad Afzal and private contractor Afsar Khan were sentenced to life imprisonment, while a Rangers man, Shahid Zafar, was handed down the death sentence by an anti-terrorism court on August 12, 2011.
Shaukat Hayat, the lawyer representing Shahid Zafar, argued that his client had no intention to kill the youth, as visible in the video, but that he accidentally fired the shot that resulted in Shah’s death. Since the convicted personnel had no intention to kill, he may be acquitted of the murder charges by setting aside capital punishment handed down by the trial court, he pleaded.
Lawyer Habib Ahmed and Syed Mehmood Alam Rizvi, who represented the co-accused facing life term, argued that since the murder had taken place due to the shots fired by Zafar, there was no case of common intention. So others cannot be punished for the offence allegedly committed by one person, they argued.
They contended the trial court had erred in deciding the case and pleaded that the life imprisonment awarded to the five convicts be set aside and they be acquitted of all charges, which they claimed were are false.
Opposing the appeals, state prosecutor Khadim Hussain maintained that the trial court had rightly and justly convicted the personnel, as the prosecution had successfully established murder charges levelled by the complainant against them. Since the offence was proven, the trial court had convicted and sentenced the personnel and a private person. “Their conviction and sentences may be maintained and the decision of the trial court be upheld and the appeals may be dismissed,” concluded Hussain.
Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, who headed the anti-terrorism appellate bench, reserved the verdict after hearing final arguments from all the parties. The decision would be announced later.
It may be noted that the victim’s family had already moved an application with the court, saying they had forgiven the convicts in the name of God, thus they may be released.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 31st, 2013.