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KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Thursday handed down death sentence to a convict and life imprisonment to two others for killing a man over non-payment of ‘protection’ money of just Rs2,000.

The convicts — Abdul Raheem, Ahmed Hassan and Anwar alias Baloch — were found guilty of kidnapping Saleem-ud-Din, demanding extortion money and killing him over non-payment.

On Thursday, the ATC-II judge pronounced her verdict, which was earlier reserved after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides.

The judge found the accused Abdul Raheem guilty of kidnapping the victim, a factory owner, killing him over non-payment of protection money and causing terror in society. He was handed down capital punishment.

The court also found two co-accused Ahmed Hassan and Anwar alias Baloch guilty of sharing common intention in the kidnapping and subsequent murder of the victim.

According to the prosecution, the accused persons had abducted Saleem-ud-Din, who was working as manager in a local factory located in the remit of the Gabol Town police station in 2014.

They demanded extortion from him, the prosecution further mentioned. However, Raheem shot dead the victim over his failure to pay a petty amount of Rs2,000 as extortion.

Later, they were detained and booked in a case registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 365 (abduction) and 386 (extortion by putting a person in fear of death or grievous hurt) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 (punishment of acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

The investigating officer of the case had submitted an investigation report against the three detained accused persons while it declared their fourth accomplice as an absconder.

The judge indicted them. However, they pleaded not guilty and opted to contest. The court had directed the prosecution to produce its witnesses in the case.

During the trial, the detained men recorded their statements under Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code, denying the allegations put up by the prosecution.

The defence counsel contended that their clients were innocent, but the prosecution had falsely framed them in the present case. They pleaded to acquit the detained men.

On the other hand, the assistant prosecutor general Ali Raza Abbasi contended that the prosecution had evidence to establish the role of the accused in the kidnapping of the victim, demands by the accused persons to pay extortion (protection) money. However, the accused persons along with their absconding accomplice kidnapped the victim and shot him upon his failure to fulfil their demand for a petty amount of Rs2,000 as protection money.

The prosecutor argued that the video footage captured by a closed-circuit television camera had captured the accused persons and the captive, wherein the latter were visible and identified.

Earlier, the court had deferred the pronouncement of the judgment in the case last month, as the defence counsel moved an application pleading to allow the defence to produce more witnesses in the case and record their evidence before passing the verdict.

Naqeebullah trial proceedings transferred

Meanwhile, the ATC-II transferred the record of the trial proceedings pertaining to the killing of an aspiring model Naseebullah, better known as Naqeebullah Mehsud, and three others in an alleged encounter after kidnapping them for ransom by the former SSP Malir Rao Anwar Khan and his detained and absconding accomplices.

Prosecution sources told Dawn that the cases pertaining to the extrajudicial killings of the four men after their kidnapping for ransom, foisting fake recoveries of arms and explosives and lodging false criminal cases against them had been transferred to the ATC-III in compliance with the order passed by the Sindh High Court last week.

The high court had ordered the transfer of the cases after Naqeeb’s father had expressed no confidence in the judge of the ATC-II after it granted post-arrest bail to suspended SSP Rao Anwar in the main murder case and subsequently in the second case of foisting fake recoveries and lodging false criminal cases against the victims by dubbing them as “terrorists”.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2018