In a test case for justice within the class struggle, a Karachi Anti-Terrorism Court on Friday handed down the death penalty to prime suspects Shahrukh Jatoi and Nawab Siraj Talpur in the Shahzeb Khan murder case while their accomplices were given life terms.
Seated in the back row of a packed courtroom along with the other suspects, Shahrukh appeared to be unaffected by the gravity of the proceedings. He wore a constant smile on his face — even when ATC-III judge Ghulam Mustafa Memon read out his verdict. By the time the judge had finished, Shahrukh had started clapping.
“After hearing arguments of all the counsels, cross-examination and going through the material on record, it is proved that on the night of December 24 and 25 you killed Shahzeb,” said Memon in his judgment
“The accused Shahrukh Jatoi and Siraj Talpur are convicted and sentenced to death while the accused Nawab Sajjad Ali Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari are convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.”
There was bedlam when his emotionally charged brother, Ashraf Jatoi, started chanting against the judge and the verdict. He also accused Shahzeb’s father, Deputy Superintendent of Police Aurangzeb Khan, of allegedly demanding money.
Shahrukh was then seen displaying a victory sign while escorted by police to an armoured police carrier.
Memon convicted the accused under section 7(a) Anti-Terrorism Act, read with sections 302, 109 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The judge also directed them to pay a fine of Rs500,000 each, half of which would be paid to the legal heirs of the deceased. In case of non-payment, they will have to undergo an additional two years’ imprisonment.
Shahrukh was further convicted and sentenced to undergo rigorous imprisonment for three years for possessing weapons without a licence, while Lashari was sentenced to imprisonment for an extra one year for assaulting Shahzeb’s sister.
The defence counsel, Shaukat Hussain Zubedi, said an appeal will be filed in the Sindh High Court in time.
“We will appeal against the points that have been considered and not considered by the judge in the final verdict.”
The ATC also issued a show cause notice to the first investigating officer of the case, Muhammad Nafees, for not conducting the investigation properly and diligently.
“He is liable for action for the defective investigation,” ordered Memon, with directions to furnish an explanation as to why proceedings should not be initiated against him.
One of the counsels for the complainant, Salahuddin Panhwar, said the court passed the verdict on the basis of evidence and proved that it was standing by the people.
“It was a battle between a common man and a capitalist and today’s decision has proved that the judiciary is independent and not under pressure.”
The investigating officer in the case, Mohammad Mubeen, said: “Justice is served and grievances have been addressed.”
Mubeen added the decision was a reward for the hard work of the police officials in the case. “The judgment is a proof of the honesty of the police officials. We’ve been through hard times but the court has given a very good decision.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2013.