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KARACHI: The final arguments could not be recorded in a case pertaining to the murder of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader Zahra Shahid on Saturday as the judge of the antiterrorism court trying four detained accused was on leave.

Four detained accused — Mohammad Rashid, alias Master; Zahid Abbas Zaidi; Irfan, alias Lamba; and Kaleem — said to be associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) along with their absconding accomplices have been charged with killing the veteran PTI leader on the eve of re-polling on Karachi’s National Assembly constituency NA-250 in 2013.

On Saturday, the matter was fixed for hearing final arguments from the defence side before the ATC-XVII judge, who is conducting the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison. But the case could not be taken up as the judge was on leave. The office fixed the hearing for Aug 27. Later, the prosecution would advance final arguments in the case.

Delay due to judge’s leave

In the last hearing, the defence had rested its case after producing four of its witnesses, who recorded their testimonies in favour of the accused.

Earlier, the four detained men had recorded their statements on Aug 2, as required under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), denying their involvement in the murder.

They deposed that they belonged to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), thus they were framed in the case on the basis of political rivalry. They further testified that they were innocent and had nothing to do with the offence, but the law enforcers took them in custody and framed them in the case.

Senior leader of the PTI Zahra Shahid was shot dead outside her home in the Defence Housing Authority on May 18, 2013.

In July, the prosecution had rested its side in the case after examining around 15 prosecution witnesses.

The police had arrested Rashid in an illicit weapons case on Sept 25, 2013. The prosecution claimed that during interrogations he had confessed to his involvement in the murder case of the PTI leader. Later, the police arrested Zahid Abbas Zaidi on Oct 2, 2013.

A case was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at the Gizri police station.

In the interim investigation report, the investigating officer had shown Junaid Bukhari, Tariq Nawab and Asif, alias Ganja as absconders.

According to the interim report, the prosecution witnesses included a driver of the slain leader, who had rightly picked out both suspects during an identification parade before a magistrate.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2018