KARACHI: The Supreme Court set aside capital punishment awarded to Asma Nawab and two others on Tuesday and ordered their acquittal, mainly due to legal technicalities, in a 20-year-old case pertaining to killing of her parents and brother.

Headed by Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, a three-member bench of the apex court allowed the appeal of the three convicts — Asma, her friend Farhan and their associate Jawaid — against their conviction after hearing final arguments from their counsel and the prosecutor.

According to the prosecution, Nawab Hussain, his wife Abrar Begum and their 25-year-old son Faheem were killed by the trio on Dec 30, 1998 at their Saudabad residence. They first overpowered Faheem, tied his hands and pasted tape on his mouth. The elderly couple was similarly disabled. Their throats were later slit with a sharp-edged knife.

The SC sets aside death sentence handed down to them by an ATC

The motive behind the triple murder was her parents’ opposition to marriage between Asma and Farhan. They wanted her engagement with her cousin.

All three accused, sentenced to death by an antiterrorism court in 1999, filed appeals in the Sindh High Court in 1999.

In Jan 2015, their appeals were finally rejected by the SHC that upheld the capital punishment handed down to them.

Then the convicts moved the Supreme Court against the dismissal of their appeals by the SHC.

The appellants contended before the SC bench that they were innocent and the charges levelled against them were baseless.

The court was requested to set aside the convictions and order their release.

The court observed that the prosecution had failed to establish its charges as the evidence put forward before it were not sufficient.

The police remained unable to prove the charges in court, the court said.

“The accused persons were behind bars for last 20 years which is itself a punishment,” Justice Khosa remarked.

The ATC had heard the case for nearly a year and found all the accused persons guilty of the offence, awarding capital punishments to them. The fourth accused, Mohammad Waseem, who was the nephew of accused Farhan, was given 10-year imprisonment by the trial court for “facilitating” the murders.

The SHC division bench comprising Justice Ali Sain Dino Metlo and Justice Dr Rana M. Shamim, had given a split verdict in 2009. One of the judges of the bench had acquitted the convicts whereas the other upheld their death penalties.

Court holiday on Bhutto’s death anniversary

Sindh High Court Chief Justice Ahmed Ali M. Shaikh on Tuesday declared April 4 (Wednesday) as holiday for the SHC and subordinate courts on the occasion of 39th death anniversary of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2018

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