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Plea against Shahbaz’s acquittal in Sabzazar case dismissed

Updated March 22, 2019

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PML-N head  Shahbaz Sharif is seen in this file photo.— AFP/File
PML-N head Shahbaz Sharif is seen in this file photo.— AFP/File

LAHORE: A Lahore High Court division bench on Thursday dismissed an appeal challenging acquittal of former chief minister of Punjab Shahbaz Sharif in Sabzazar police encounter case.

Khurshid Khanum, mother of Waseem and Rauf who were killed in an encounter, had filed the appeal in 2009 with a delay of one year. However, a division bench that had taken up the appeal at that time had condoned the delay after the appellant gave tangible reasons.

The appellant, through her counsel Aftab Bajwa, stated that another complainant in murder case of Shakeel, Salahuddin and Ashraf had forgiven Shahbaz Sharif, that led to his acquittal.

She said her husband, who later passed away, had not withdrawn the charges and after his death she continued to pursue the case.

The appellant said the trial court could not acquit the former chief minister of the charges relying on the statement of one of the parties to the case. She asked the court to set aside the suspect’s acquittal and issue a direction to hold his trial afresh.

Advocate Khwaja Harris had represented Mr Sharif in the case and argued that the trial court had acquitted the former chief minister on merits. He pointed out that Mr Sharif had turned down the offer of settlement from one of the complainants and opted to contest the trial.

Announcing a reserved verdict, the bench headed by Justice Muhammad Qasim Khan dismissed the appeal for having no merits.

Five persons were killed during a police encounter on April 4, 1998 in the jurisdiction of Sabzazaar police station. The FIR was registered against 12 persons, including Shahbaz Sharif, on March 29, 2001.

On March 1, 2008, an anti-terrorism court had acquitted the then chief minister of the charges.

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019