An Islamabad sessions court on Wednesday was unable to frame charges on the suspects in Noor Mukadam’s murder case after the suspects filed fresh petitions.
A total of 12 people were supposed to be indicted during today's hearing, including principle suspect Zahir Zakir Jaffer, his parents Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Adamjee, their three household staff Iftikhar, Jan Muhammad and Jameel and six Therapy Works employees including Tahir Zahoor, Amjad, Dilip Kumar, Abdul Haq, Wamiq and Samar Abbas.
At the previous hearing, copies of the investigation report had been distributed among the suspects.
During today's hearing, the lawyer of Therapyworks Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tahir Zahoor Ahmed objected to the fact that certain documents were not provided with the copy of the challan.
Meanwhile, Zakir's lawyer contended that the court had given authorities seven days to indict his client who was not even aware about the evidence against him. He urged the court to charge the suspects after providing the documents that had been made part of the challan.
He said that they had only been given statements under Section 161 (examination of witnesses by police) of the Criminal Code of Procedure. The lawyer asked the court to give his client a chance to prove his innocence.
Adamjee's lawyer also contended that the documents collected during the investigation should be provided to the suspects and referred to previous cases where this had been allowed.
He claimed that the suspects had not been giving the forensic reports and certain matters were kept "confidential". The lawyer added that his client and her husband had challenged the Islamabad High Court's decision to reject their bail in the apex court.
He also asked for more time before the court indicted the suspects. "In order to frame charges, time must be provided so that we can understand the evidence against the suspects," he contended.
Meanwhile, the plaintiff's lawyer said that the suspects had been provided copies of the investigation report at the last hearing which they had also signed in the presence of their lawyers.
He said that the CCTV footage recording as well as the scene of the crime were sealed, adding that the suspects had not challenged the timeframe within which the charges were to be framed. He urged the court to dismiss their petitions.
Zakir's lawyer asked the court to de-seal the scientific evidence, and said it could be resealed after being provided to the suspects. He cited Article 10-A of the Constitution and said that it gave the right to fair trial. He asked for four weeks to file charges against the suspects.
'I want to speak freely'
Meanwhile, Zahir Jaffer told the court that he had not received a list of lawyers provided by the American Embassy.
"I have been in custody for 90 days. What is the court's next plan?" he asked the judge, calling on him to "let him speak freely".
"The court does not have a plan, instead there are court proceedings?" the judge replied. He told the suspect to speak through his lawyers, adding that his lawyer would inform him of whatever happens.
The court adjourned the hearing till tomorrow (Thursday) and said that all three petitions filed by the suspects will be decided then.
Parents approach SC for bail
Meanwhile, the parents of Zahir Jaffer filed separate petitions for bail in the Supreme Court — almost a week after the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had rejected their bail pleas and ordered authorities to keep them in detention until the completion of the trial.
Filed through Advocate Khwaja Haris, the petition said no evidence was available to prove that the parents knew of Zahir's intention to kill Noor.
The petition further contended that the bail application couldn't be dismissed on the statement of a co-accused.
The defendants requested the apex court to approve their bail application and set aside the IHC order of Sep 29.
Noor, 27, was found murdered at a residence in Islamabad's upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20.
A first information report (FIR) was registered later the same day against Zahir, who was arrested from the site of the murder, under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code on the complaint of the victim's father, Shaukat Ali Mukadam.
Zahir's parents and household staff were also arrested on July 24 over allegations of "hiding evidence and being complicit in the crime". They were made a part of the investigation based on Shaukat's statement, according to a police spokesperson.
In his complaint, Shaukat had stated that he had gone to Rawalpindi on July 19 to buy a goat for Eidul Azha, while his wife had gone out to pick up clothes from her tailor. When he had returned home in the evening, the couple found their daughter Noor absent from their house in Islamabad.
They had found her cellphone number switched off, and started a search for her. Sometime later, Noor had called her parents to inform them that she was travelling to Lahore with some friends and would return in a day or two, according to the FIR.
The complainant said he had later received a call from the suspect, whose family were the ex-diplomat's acquaintances. The suspect had informed Shaukat that Noor was not with him, the FIR said.
At around 10pm on July 20, the victim's father had received a call from Kohsar police station, informing him that Noor had been murdered.
Police had subsequently taken the complainant to Zahir's house in Sector F-7/4 where he discovered that his "daughter has been brutally murdered with a sharp-edged weapon and beheaded", according to the FIR.
Shaukat, who identified his daughter's body, has sought the maximum punishment under the law against Zahir for allegedly murdering his daughter.
Police later said that Zahir had confessed to killing Noor while his DNA test and fingerprints also showed his involvement in the murder.