KARACHI: The day Shahrukh Jatoi filed an appeal against the Anti-Terrorist Court verdict in the Sindh High Court, he also reportedly wrote letters to the human rights advocacy groups to seek their support against his conviction.
Shahrukh, who was sentenced to death after being found guilty in the Shahzeb Khan murder case on June 7, addressed the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Chairperson Zohra Yusuf in the letter, with the subject reading “Appeal of Justice”. The letter was also forwarded to eminent lawyer Asma Jahangir, Supreme Court Bar Association President Mian Israrul Haq, Sindh High Court Bar Association President Mustafa Lakhani and Zia Ahmed Awan of Madadgar.
“I faced the trial with an open heart and mind and put my faith in the judicial system of Pakistan,” Shahrukh said in the letter. “I am, however, shocked at the judgment as I did not kill Shahzeb Khan.”
Shahrukh said that he hasn’t written the letter to gain sympathy but to highlight the “heinous” role played by the media throughout the trial and “unnecessary intervention of the judiciary in the investigation of the case which led to miscarriage of justice which, in turn, could lead to the end of my life.” Shahrukh also alleged that the verdict was out before the trial even began, adding that his pictures holding a gun were aired on television and plastered across newspapers as if he was a terrorist.
The convict further stated that he was denied a fair trial and questioned that even if it is assumed that he committed the crime, would it be right to condemn him to death for a momentary lapse of judgment? He urged the HRCP to not let another youth die, adding that two wrongs don’t make a right. “The system’s job is to reform an individual, not kill him.”
Yusuf, meanwhile, acknowledged that a regional office of the commission forwarded her the letter through an email in which Shahrukh has pleaded his innocence and complained against the media. “Such cases do not fall under our domain and can only be solved through a process in the court,” she said, adding that HRCP does not take up cases that only benefits individuals rather than public at large.
Lakhani and Awan, however, denied receiving any letter. Awan said that the convict can write to anyone in his personal capacity but it wouldn’t be of any help to him as the matter is sub judice. “It was a test case and timely conviction only upholds the rule of law.”
Despite several attempts, Shahrukh’s counsel Shoukat Hussain Zubedi could not be reached for his comments. Jamshed Ahmed Khokhar, one of the lawyers in the panel, however, said that he was unaware of any correspondence that Shahrukh might have had with HRCP from the jail. “Neither Shahrukh nor his family have informed us about any such letter.”
The Superintendent of the Karachi Central Jail, Kazi Nazir Ahmed, expressed his ignorance about the letter. “The letter hasn’t been routed through me nor was it brought to my knowledge,” said Ahmed, adding that the letter might have been forwarded by a relative of Shahrukh.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 17th, 2013.
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