QUETTA / ISLAMABAD: The apex court on Tuesday dismissed a plea against the execution of death-row prisoner Saulat Mirza on March 19.
Mirza, apparently a worker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on May 24, 1999, for killing Karachi Electric Supply Corporation’s former managing director Shahid Hamid, his driver and a guard on July 5, 1997 in Karachi.
The Sindh High Court and later the Supreme Court upheld the ATC verdict while Mirza’s clemency plea was also rejected by President Mamnoon Hussian.
On Tuesday, Mirza’s lawyer, Latif Khosa, appeared before Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk during an in chamber appeal and requested him to revisit the SC’s earlier judgment, adding that additional evidences may be allowed to be recorded.
Mirza’s petition said the incident took place on July 5, 1997, while the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997 was promulgated on August 20, 1997. Therefore, the ATA could not be applied on Mirza, who is convicted under statute 7(i)(a) of the ATA, 1997, read with 302 Pakistan Penal Code.
The death sentence awarded to Mirza should be converted into life imprisonment as a criminal cannot be awarded two types of sentences for the same crime, it said.
The petition also requested the apex court to revisit its Sept 14, 2001 judgment of turning down his criminal appeal against the Sindh High Court’s January 21, 2000 verdict, which maintained the death sentence handed down by the ATC.
In its earlier judgment, the apex court had held that the wife and son of the deceased, being independent and uninterested witnesses, had testified that they had seen Mirza firing at Shahid Hamid.
Mirza had, however, requested the court to consider summoning the record of a 1997 human rights case consisting of statements of Shahid Hamid’s widow, Shahnaz, and son, Umair, and the proceedings relating to the murder in question for having direct bearing in the matter.’
The petitioner argued that Mrs Shahnaz Hamid, who was an eyewitness, had picked him during a test identification parade 540 days after the occurrence (ten days after his arrest) and accused him in the court as the perpetrator of the crime.
But in her statement recorded in the 1997 human right case, she unambiguously stated that she had reached the crime scene after the occurrence and had not seen the culprits. So was the position of Umair Shahid, the petitioner said.
After hearing the arguments, the court reserved its judgment in the morning. However, in the afternoon, it issued its verdict, rejecting Mirza’s plea.
Mirza meets his family
Two days ahead of his execution, members of the family met the inmate., March 19 at Central Prison Mach, one of the most dreadful prisons in Bolan district of Balochistan on Tuesday.
According to the jail’s superintendent, Ishaq Zehri, the family – comprising his wife, son and sister – arrived at the central prison on Tuesday and held an hour long meeting with him.
According to the prison official, Mirza was brought to Mach during the month of February 2014. Home Secretary Akbar Durrani said Mirza is the only person on death row who would be executed in Balochistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 18th, 2015.