Fear and security issues due to killers on the loose

Fear and security issues due to killers on the looseShahrukh Jatoi, the main accused person in the Shahzeb Khan’s murder case, along with three others moved on Wednesday the Supreme Court (SC) to avoid their arrest after the apex court accepted last week civil society members’ petition against annulment of their conviction and sentences.

The accused persons, including Jatoi, Siraj Talpur, Sajjad Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari, submitted their surety bonds in sum of Rs500,000 each with the SC at Karachi Registry to avoid their arrest.

A three-judge SC bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, had granted leave to appeal on the civil society activists’ petition against the Sindh High Court’s (SHC) November 28, 2017 order wherein it declared that the case does not fall within the ambit of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and subsequently ordered re-trial before a sessions court.

The apex court had ordered the interior secretary to place the names of Jatoi, Siraj, Sajjad and their employee Ghulam Murtaza Lashari on the Exit Control List (ECL) so as to bar them from leaving the country.

Furthermore, the court had issued bailable warrants for the accused persons and directed the concerned senior police superintendent to arrest them and present them before the court in Islamabad on the next date of hearing.

The rights activists include Jibran Nasir, Jamshed Raza Mahmood, Afiya Shehrbano Zia, Naeem Sadiq, Nazim Fida Hussain Haji, Zulfiqar Shah, Aquila Ismail, Fahim Zaman Khan, and Naziha Syed Ali.

The cold-blooded murder of Shahzeb, 20-year-old son of SSP Auraugzeb Khan, had sparked protests by the civil society and debate over whether the country’s elite could be held accountable for crimes they committed as the accused belonged to powerful feudal families of Sindh.

The anti-terrorism court (ATC) sentenced on June 7, 2013 Jatoi and Siraj to death, while Sajjad and Lashari were awarded life imprisonment, as the judge found them guilty of shooting the unarmed youth to death over some dispute.

However, later, the victim’s legal heirs struck a compromise and pardoned them ‘without accepting blood money’. Subsequently, an SHC division bench ruled on November 28, 2017 that the murder case does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The bench set aside the sentences and ordered a re-trial of the case by a sessions court. Subsequently, a district and sessions court granted last month bail to Jatoi and others after the deceased’s father submitted an affidavit in support of their bail applications.

The activists claimed that the incident struck terror and created panic among the residents of the area, which they considered enough grounds to file the case, even though they did not directly know the deceased.

The counsel said the petitioners were personally terrorised and intimidated by the murder as it also created a sense of insecurity. He said the petition was being filed as a public interest appeal on behalf of the citizens of Karachi, especially the residents of Clifton and Defence, as well as the people of Pakistan.

The petitioners also claimed that there were at least two eyewitnesses to the murder, meaning that overwhelming evidence against the murderers is available.

The Express Tribune