Prosecution closes side in Perween Rahman murder trial

Published June 21, 2021
This file photo shows Perween Rahman with the women in Orangi. — Photo courtesy OPP
This file photo shows Perween Rahman with the women in Orangi. — Photo courtesy OPP

KARACHI: An antiterrorism court has recorded testimony of the head of a joint investigation team (JIT) constituted to re-investigate the Perween Rahman murder case.

Five accused — Abdul Raheem Swati, his son Mohammad Imran Swati and three co-accused, Ayaz Shamzai aka Swati, Amjad Hussain Khan and Ahmed Khan aka Ahmed Ali aka Pappu Kashmiri — have been charged with the murder.

Ms Rahman, who dedicated her life for development of the impoverished localities, was gunned down near her office in Orangi Town on March 13, 2013.

The JIT head appears in court and records statement as a prosecution witness

When the matter recently came up before the ATC-VII judge, who is conducting the trial of the five accused in the judicial complex inside the central prison Karachi, an official of the Federal Investigation Agency’s Counter-Terrorism Wing, Khalid Shaikh, produced a prosecution witness for recording his testimony.

The witness, Babar Bakht Qureshi, a director of the FIA who headed the JIT, recorded his testimony before the court, He produced two CDs, containing interviews of Ms Rahman.

The officer deposed that he had recorded statements of three witnesses of the case, including forensic and technical experts and a freelance journalist, under Section 161 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

He had recorded the statement of journalist Fahad Deshmukh, who had interviewed Ms Rahman in the OPP office in December 2012 for an international radio website.

The officer deposed that he had also recorded the statement of Muhammad Waqas, a technical expert with the FIA, who had downloaded the audios of the interview from the website and obtained original audio recordings of Ms Rahman’s another interview from Mr Deshmukh’s audio recording device.

The officer added that he had also recorded the statement of forensic expert Masood Ali, who had matched both the audios to check their genuineness, etc.

After his testimony, the prosecution closed its side.

The judge fixed the matter for July 5 for recording statements of the accused.

Earlier, the prosecution had provided a list of 15 to 20 witnesses to the court for recording their testimonies in the case.

The witnesses included the heads and members of three different JITs, which were constituted from time to time to investigate the high-profile murder case.

The trial court was directed to examine the officers of the JITs by the Supreme Court, where the victim’s sister, Aquila Ismail, had approached seeking a fresh investigation by the FIA showing no confidence in the Sindh police’s investigation.

According to the prosecution, some of the accused during interrogation had confessed to their involvement in the crime and disclosed that local leaders of the Awami National Party (ANP) had allegedly hired Taliban militants to kill Ms Rahman.

It added that Shamzai and Swati, who were said to be local leaders of the ANP, were living near the OPP office and allegedly tried to obtain a designated area to build a karate centre, but Ms Rahman refused to allow it.

The prosecution also said that all the accused persons were present in a meeting held in January 2013 at Swati’s residence in which they planned Ms Rahman’s murder, adding that they hired a local commander of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Moosa, and Mehfoozullah aka Bhaloo for the murder.

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

Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 was subsequently incorporated in the case on the basis of a judicial inquiry conducted by then district and sessions judge (west) Ghulam Mustafa Memon on the orders of the SC.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2021

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