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Death penalty for Shahzeb’s killers

KARACHI, June 7: An anti-terrorism court sentenced to death on Friday two young men for murdering 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan in December last year. Two of the co-accused in the case were sentenced to life in prison.

Some time after the murder it appeared that some influential people were influencing the investigation and helping the accused to escape punishment.

But an uproar fuelled by social media and protests by political groups and intervention by the superior judiciary ensured the case would be taken to its logical conclusion.

Judge Ghulam Mustafa Memon of the ATC-III sentenced Shahrukh Jatoi and Nawab Siraj Ali Talpur to death and Nawab Sajjad Ali Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari to life term for shooting Shahzeb Khan to death in the Defence area of Karachi.

According to the prosecution, Shahzeb had an altercation with the accused who had tried to tease his sister and the issue was settled by some elders. But the culprits opened fire on the vehicle of Shahzeb and killed him.

In his 95-page verdict, the judge also sentenced accused Lashari, the servant of the Talpurs, to one-year imprisonment for teasing the sister of Shahzeb.

The court rejected Jatoi’s plea of alibi. He had produced his elder brother, Ashraf Ali Jatoi, as a defence witness to state that he was with him at the airport at the time of the incident.

The court observed that the alibi plea was required to be taken at the earliest available opportunity but it was taken at a later stage in the instant case. “It was not taken before the investigation officers, it was also not taken by the accused [persons] in their plea when the charge was read over and explained to them by the court,” it added.

The court discharged the names of absconding accused Asif Lund, Suleman Jatoi and Khurram Muhammed because no evidence against them had been produced by the prosecution.

Initially, the case (FIR 591/12) was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 109 (abetment) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code on a complaint of the father of the deceased, DSP Aurangzeb, However, during investigation, Section 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modestly) of the PPC and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, were incorporated in the FIR.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry had taken suo motu notice of the case and directed the trial court to hold hearing on a daily basis.The incident also triggered a widespread debate over whether the country’s elite could be held accountable for their crimes because the father of the prime accused belonged to a powerful feudal family of Sindh.

Detailed reports, picture on inside pages.