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Trial of four Rangers men yet to begin

Updated September 17, 2013
File photo
File photo

KARACHI, Sept 16: In a clear violation of the anti-terrorism law and regardless of the fact that the Supreme Court had ordered their speedy trial, police have yet to file a charge-sheet against four Rangers soldiers who allegedly killed an unarmed taxi driver in July, it emerged on Monday.

Lance Naik Ghulam Rasool and Barkat Ali and sepoy Waqar and Nazeer of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh have been booked and arrested for allegedly killing taxi driver Murid Abbas, who was gunned down in Gulistan-i-Jauhar on July 16.

The Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice in the present case and on July 26 it had ruled that the suspects should be put on trial under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and asked the trial court to decide the matter within seven days after taking cognizance.

The court of a judicial magistrate had sent the suspects to prison on judicial remand on July 27 and had directed the police to submit a charge-sheet till July 31.

However, following the order of the apex court to try the suspects under the ATA, the police was bound to submit a charge-sheet before an anti-terrorism court within one month after the judicial remand of the suspects. But despite the passage of over one and a half months, the police have yet to file a charge-sheet under Section 173 of the criminal procedure code before an ATC.

The inordinate delay on part of the police to file the charge-sheet was not only against the spirit of the apex court order but also a clear violation of the ATA as legal experts said that initially as per Section 19 (1) of the ATA, the police have to complete the investigation within seven working days and forward the report under Section 173 of the CrPC to the court.

The experts said that after an amendment, the period was extended up to one month.

It is worth noting that despite filing the charge-sheet before an ATC, the investigation officer of the case along with the widow of the deceased, who was also the complainant in the case, appeared before the court of a judicial magistrate (east) on Aug 20, and the woman submitted an application along with an undertaking that she had unconditionally forgiven the suspects and willing to withdraw the case. However, the magistrate returned the application with a direction to approach the court concerned as the apex court ordered to put suspects on trial under the ATA.

According to the prosecution, the taxi driver was allegedly shot dead by Rangers in Gulistan-i-Jauhar on July 16 when he reportedly did not stop his vehicle upon being signalled to do so.

A case (FIR 468/13) was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Gulistan-i-Jauhar police station on a compliant of the deceased’s widow.

Two eyewitnesses had picked out the four suspects before the court of a judicial magistrate during an identification parade. Both witnesses identified suspect Ghulam Rasool as the alleged shooter and deposed that other three paramilitary soldiers were also present with him at the time of the incident.