KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Friday upheld the death sentence of nine militants of banned Jundullah and acquitted their two associates in the 2006 corps commander convoy attack case.
An antiterrorism appellate bench comprising Justices Muhammad Karim Khan Agha and Abdul Mobeen Lakho had on Jan 28 reserved its verdict on an appeal jointly filed by 11 convicts.
Attaur Rehman alias Ibrahim, Shahzad Ahmed Bajwa, Yaqoob Saeed, Uzair Ahmed, Shoaib Siddiqui, Danish Inam, Najeebullah, Khurrum Saifullah, Shahzad Mukhtar, Khalid Rao and Adnan Shah were sentenced to death by an antiterrorism court on Feb 22, 2006.
The trial court had found them guilty of committing a series of offences, including the June 10, 2004 attack on the motorcade of then corps commander V Corps Lt Gen Ahsan Saleem Hayat, on the old Clifton bridge, which had resulted in the death of six army personnel, three policemen and a passerby.
Over 35 judges of the high court have heard the appeal of 11 Jundullah men filed 14 years ago
All of them had challenged their sentences in the Sindh High Court by filing the appeal in June 2006 that was heard by more than 35 judges over the period.
In its judgement, the SHC appellate bench ruled that the trial court had rightly convicted nine appellants —Rehman, Bajwa, Ahmed, Siddiqui, Inam, Saifullah, Mukhtar, Khalid Rao and Adnan Shah.
The bench partially dismissed the appeal to the extent of the nine above-named convicts. It also answered a reference sent by the trial court for confirmation of sentences awarded to them in the affirmative to the extent of the nine men.
However, the bench acquitted Yaqoob Saeed and Najeebullah and partially allowed their appeal. It also answered in the negative the trial court’s reference against them.
Advocate Mushtaq Ahmed represented the appellants while a deputy prosecutor general represented the state.
The Jundullah men were arrested near the Model Colony graveyard on June 13, 2004.
They were charged with the offences under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 324 (attempted murder), 404 (dishonest misappropriation of property possessed by deceased person at the time of his death) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Explosives Act.
The trial court had also handed down life imprisonment to them for planting two bombs at the bridge. The court had also ordered confiscation of their properties.
The court had sentenced them to 14-year imprisonment for injuring 10 people during the attack and had also imposed a fine of Rs50,000 each.
The trial court had further ordered each convict to pay Rs100,000 compensation to the legal heirs of each deceased.
According to the prosecution, accused Najeebullah had booked a vehicle from its owner for a picnic and had asked the owner to send the vehicle to a house in Federal B. Area.
It cited the testimonies of driver Ghulam Rasool and Bakhtiar Khan as eyewitnesses, who deposed that they reached the designated place at 6am, but only three accused were present there.
It had further mentioned that the accused held the driver and conductor at gunpoint and accused Uzair started driving the van. He deposed that on their way, accused Najeebullah injected something to the conductor and ejected him from the van a little before Jauhar Chowrangi in Gulistan-i-Jauhar while he also injected some drug to the driver and ejected him as well from the vehicle.
The prosecution cited testimony of car rental dealer Ghulam Abbas as its prime eyewitness, who recognised accused Najeebullah. The witness deposed that Najeebullah came to his office on June 9, 2004 to book a HiAce for a picnic on June 10.
Other prosecution witnesses — eyewitnesses Capt Salman Masood, Havildar Abdur Rasheed, Lance Naik Mohammad Safdar, Havildar Zafar Abbas, who were present in the corps commander’s vehicle — had identified accused Bajwa, Siddiqui, Mukhtar and Saifullah as those who attacked the convoy.
Published in Dawn, February 15th, 2020