To the gallows: Afzal, Kashif denied clemency hours before being hanged

Supreme Court says no compromise can be reached in terror-related cases

Our Correspondent March 16, 2015
Supreme Court says no compromise can be reached in terror-related cases. DESIGN: MUHAMMAD SUHAIB

KARACHI: Hours before walking to the gallows, the two death convicts, Muhammad Afzal and Faisal Khan, lost their final attempt at getting a new lease on their lives as the Supreme Court ruled that ‘killings in terror-related cases cannot be compromised on’ under the law.

A three-member bench, comprising Justices Asif Saeed Khan Khosa, Amir Hani Muslim and Qazi Faez Isa, rejected the petitions during the hearing at the apex court’s Karachi registry on Monday. An anti-terrorism court had handed down death sentences to Afzal and Khan for killing a man during an armed robbery in 1998.

Their appeals were rejected by the Sindh High Court (SHC) and then the Supreme Court. Following the shift in the government’s policy regarding the temporary moratorium on the execution of death convicts, President Mamnoon Hussain had recently dismissed their mercy appeals after which the anti-terrorism court had issued black warrants for their execution.

Last month, both the convicts’ wives had approached the Sindh High Court with a request to accept a compromise that the convicts had signed with the legal heirs of the victim.

They argued that according to the interior ministry’s notification issued on December 17, only death convicts in terrorism-related cases would be executed. Claiming that their husbands’ actions did not create terror in society, the petitioners had urged the court to accept the compromise.

Suspending the operation of the black warrants for only a day, the SHC judges had asked the petitioners to approach the relevant ATC that had issued black warrants, to consider the legality of the compromise.

The ATC rejected the compromise plea, noting that the act of the convicts was non-compoundable. Subsequently, the ATC had issued fresh black warrants for their execution on March 17.

As a last resort, the convicts had filed petitions in the Supreme Court, arguing that the SHC judges had erred in passing their order, as they failed to appreciate that under the interior ministry’s own notification, those death convicts not affiliated with any militant outfit were not to be hanged.

During Monday’s proceedings, the apex court’s bench also observed that there was no possibility of compromise in the terror-related cases, as was clearly mentioned in the relevant laws. Therefore, the judges dismissed the plea.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2015.


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