PESHAWAR: The military court death sentence of a man convicted for harbouring a suicide bomber involved in the Army Public School massacre was challenged in the Peshawar High Court.
Nek Maro, mother of Taj Muhammad alias Rizwan, filed the petition and sought a court order to rescind the death sentence of her son.
Maro filed the petition through her counsel Abdul Latif Afridi. The special military court of 11 Corps Peshawar, federal secretaries for defence and interior as well as provincial secretary for home and tribal affairs were asked to respond. Other respondents included the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa IGP.
When the judgment rolled
On August 14, Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the armed forces, issued a statement, saying the Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif confirmed the death sentence awarded to six people for being involved in APS and Safora Chowrangi, Karachi attacks.
One of the convicts was Taj, who the army maintained was an active member of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and was involved in the APS attack which claimed over 150 lives.
When Taj disappeared
Taj’s mother said he was picked up from their house by secret service personnel who were accompanied by the Pistakhara police on February 7. The family searched and searched but failed to locate Taj.
Taj’s mother said her son is not associated with any terrorist organisation. However, he did visit Wana, South Waziristan Agency in 2007 in the company of tribesman Nazeer and stayed there for 40 days, she added.
Maro said her son was a daily wage labourer and was married. His wife, Yasmeen, was admitted to the Khyber Teaching Hospital for a pregnancy related complication on December 16, 2014. Taj was with her at the time the attack happened as she gave birth to a child who died the very next day on December 17, 2014, the petition read.
Taj remained with his wife till she was discharged from the hospital on December 20, 2014.
She said after hearing the news, the family restarted its search for Taj and looked for him in the Peshawar and Haripur jails, but to no avail. “The family neither found the court which granted the sentence nor was it provided with any details of the case,” the petition claimed. Taj’s mother said under the Constitution and prison laws, the convict and his or her family are entitled to know the orders of court and charges of the offence. The petition further said any sentence handed by military courts is subject to a judicial review.
“The confessional statement shown to have been recorded with Taj implicating himself is not voluntary. The statement was extracted through violence, coercion and threats, and has no legal value,” the petition stated.
It further said the arrest, trials and sentence have no evidentiary value. “The trial was not conducted fairly and the charges were never made public. Taj was also not provided with a counsel of his choice,” Taj’s mother said.
PHC has been requested to set aside the death sentence and declare it illegal, without jurisdiction and based on no evidence.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2015.