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KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Thursday adjourned hearing of the case pertaining to the murder of renowned social activist Perween Rahman as prosecution witnesses did not turn up to record their testimonies against five detained accused persons.

Ms Rahman, head of the Orangi Pilot Project, who devoted her life to the development of impoverished neighbourhoods, was gunned down near her office in Orangi Town on March 13, 2013.

Five accused — Ayaz Shamzai alias Swati, Amjad Hussain Khan, Ahmed Khan alias Ahmed Ali alias Pappu Kashmiri, Mohammad Imran Swati and Raheem Swati — have been charged with her murder.

On Thursday, the matter was fixed before the ATC-XIII judge for recording testimonies of the prosecution witnesses, including nine private persons, against the detained accused.

Complainant’s counsel says witnesses did not turn up due to security concerns

When the matter was taken up, none of the witnesses appeared before the court to testify.

The judge, who conducted hearing in the judicial complex inside the central prison, simply adjourned hearing on the main trial and fixed it for Sept 10.

Later, the complainant’s counsel, Advocate Salahuddin Panhwar, told reporters that neither the police officials nor the private witnesses turned up for recording their testimonies since they had not been provided adequate security despite issuance of clear directives to the West Range SSP by the court in the last hearing.

The investigation officer had listed 29 witnesses in the final charge sheet, but only nine of them had been examined by the court.

Last week, the court had issued notices to the remaining 20 witnesses, including nine private persons, to appear and record their statements. It had also directed the West SSP to ensure their presence and provision of adequate security.

Main suspect moves bail plea

Meanwhile, the court issued a notice to the complainant’s counsel for argument on Sept 10 on the bail application moved by a detained accused Raheem Swati, said to be the main suspect in the murder case.

In the bail plea, Advocate Shamroz Khan, defence counsel for Imran Swati, argued that neither his client’s name was mentioned in the record of the case, the first information report (FIR), nor there was any eyewitness who had seen him at the time of the alleged murder.

He pleaded that post-arrest bail be granted to Swati, arguing that he was an innocent person and was incarcerated for a long time.

Previously, the court had dismissed bail application filed by Imran Swati, who has been charged with facilitating the killers, including his father and main accused Raheem Swati, and concealing information about them.

The court had observed that there was great apprehension on the part of the prosecution and the complainant that the detained accused could harm the complainant as well as the witnesses if he was granted bail and ordered to be released.

A case was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Pirabad police station.

Later, Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 was incorporated in the case on a directive of the Supreme Court that had also ordered a judicial inquiry into the case by the then district and sessions judge (West) Ghulam Mustafa Memon.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2018