The lawyers for Zahir Jaffer, primary accused in the Noor Mukadam murder case, presented before a district and session's court in Islamabad on Wednesday their client's replies to a court's questionnaire, wherein the accused maintained that he and his parents were falsely implicated in the case, that state machinery and media were used against him and raised objections over the case's investigation and collection of evidence.
The questionnaire was issued under section 342 (power to examine the accused) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) and comprised 25 queries.
Lawyers Shahryar Nawaz and Usman Riaz Gul, who represented Zahir at today's proceedings, read out the accused's replies to the queries before Additional Sessions Judge Atta Rabbani.
According to the accused, he had a very close relationship with Noor, who was found murdered at his residence in Islamabad's upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20 last year.
In his replies, the accused submitted that he had not been in contact with Noor for the past six months before her murder and she had come to his house out of her own will on July 18.
"I never kidnapped her," he stated, adding that the DNA test conducted had turned out positive due to their intimate relationship.
He said this in response to a question about the allegation levelled against him of wrongfully confining Noor at his house and a DNA test establishing that he had raped her.
Zahir maintained that his relationship with Noor was consensual, they were good friends and that he was innocent.
"Our families knew about it (their relationship) and the deceased used to attend our family functions. Similarly, I and my family members also used to attend her family functions," Zahir said in his replies.
In response to whether he wanted to give his own statement under Section 340 (2) (right of a person against whom proceedings are instituted to be defended and his competency to be a witness) of the CrPC, Zahir shared his version of the events leading to Noor's murder.
He claimed that he had had no contact with Noor for the past six months before her murder, adding that Noor had contacted him on July 18 and asked him to organise a party.
"But I refused," he said, adding that Noor came to his house on the night of July 18, 2021.
"She had drugs... and kept on insisting on a party," Zahir said. "Noor Mukadam also called her friends to the party who came to my house."
According to the accused, he had booked a flight for the US and was supposed to leave on July 19.
"I left my house [for the airport] on July 19 at night while Noor Mukadam kept on asking me to miss the flight. She wanted to travel to America with me. She had asked her friends for money to buy a ticket and coaxed the taxi driver to leave."
Zahir said on July 20, Noor called her friends to his house for a party when his parents and other family members had gone to Karachi to celebrate Eid.
"When the party started, I lost consciousness under the influence of drugs and when I regained consciousness, I found myself tied at my house," he said, adding that after a while, when people in police uniform and plain clothes came to his residence, he then got to know that someone at the party had killed Noor.
"I and my parents have been falsely implicated in this case as the incident took place at my house," he said.
Zahir further said the complainant, Noor's father Shaukat Mukadam, and his relatives were present at his house before police arrived.
"But police did not investigate anyone who was in touch with Noor."
He further argued in his replies that "state machinery and the media were used against me".
In this connection, he claimed that Islamabad SSP Mustafa Tanveer had visited the crime scene and found drugs among Noor's belongings. "When he [the SSP] tried to reveal this fact to the media, he was removed from his position under pressure from state machinery."
He further stated that "it was for the same reason that the victim's belongings were not made a part of the case property."
Moreover, Zahir submitted in his replies that the murder weapon found at the crime scene did not have his fingerprints.
"They also recovered a pistol, which was licensed and present at my house. Police [connived] with the complainant to make it a part of the case property. This is why the pistol's forensic report did not [conclude] that my fingerprints were found," he claimed.
The accused maintained that police had taken his fingerprints while he was in their custody, which was not in line with legal standard operating procedures.
He further said that according to evidence produced by the prosecution, no digital video recorder (DVR) was present at the crime scene. "The DVR was made to strengthen the evidence."
Additionally, Zahir said no transcript of any call detail records (CDR) was prepared, whereas according to a Supreme Court ruling, CDR could not be used as evidence without a transcript.
He said the data for CDR included in evidence was neither acquired from nor verified by a mobile service provider company.
"This is why the IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) of Noor's phone, as mentioned in the CDR, does not match with the one stated in the forensic laboratory report."
Zahir said his mobile phone had been taken into custody by investigators at the time of his arrest and not on his indication, as had been mentioned in the case.
In fact, he continued, "most of the case's investigation was done inside the police station". He added that only one witness was mentioned with regards to the recovery of his belongings, whereas section 103 of the CrPC required the presence of two witnesses.
He also denied that police had searched his house on July 20 and claimed that his clothes were used to involve him in the case.
This was in response to a question about the recovery of his torn and blood-stained shirt from the crime scene, which was sent for a laboratory analysis.
To another question about a test of his sexual fitness, Zahir stated, "It is true that witness no.13 of the prosecution conducted my medical examination, but he only did it superficially."
In response to another question pointing out that his fingerprints matched with that of a pistol's magazine included in the case, he said it was wrong.
"Police took my fingerprints and used them to [falsely] involve me in the case," he maintained.
To a question about the results of an audio and video analysis and photogrammetry test, he replied that they had also been conducted to falsely implicate him in the case.
Noor, 27, was found murdered at a residence in the capital's upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20 last year. A first information report (FIR) was registered the same day against Zahir — who was arrested from the site of the murder — under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on the complaint of the victim's father, Shaukat Ali Mukadam, who is a retired Pakistani diplomat.
After the FIR was registered in the murder case, Zahir's parents and household staff were 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 Noor's father's statement.
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 Zahir, whose family were their 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.
Six officials of Therapy Works, whose employees had visited the site of the murder before police, were also nominated in the case and were indicted with six others, including Zahir Jaffer's parents, in October.