KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Friday upheld the death penalty of two convicts handed down by a trial court in a case pertaining to the 2017 suicide attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan.

The SHC observed that it had hardly ever come across a crime of such brutality as more than a hundred men, women and children had been killed or seriously injured and some of the wounded had been crippled for life.

It said that those who indulged in such inhuman act must be sent a loud and clear message that no leniency would be extended to them by courts if they were proved guilty and they must be dealt with iron hand and face deterrent sentence of death penalty in order to dissuade others from treading in their barbaric footsteps.

An antiterrorism court had sentenced Nadir Ali, alias Murshid and Furqan alias Farooq, linked to the militant Islamic State group, to death in May 2020 for helping suicide bomber Barar Brohi, who on Feb 16, 2017 had blown himself up at the packed-to-capacity courtyard of the shrine of the Sufi saint killing around 70 people and wounding over 65 others.

The convicts through their lawyers had challenged their conviction before the SHC and after hearing both sides and examining the record and proceedings of the case, the two-judge bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha dismissed the appeals.

The bench in its judgement said that the retracted judicial confessional statements of both the appellants were made voluntarily as there was no compelling material on record to indicate otherwise and there were hardly any procedural irregularity while recording the judicial confessions.

The five eyewitnesses have also supported the confessional statements of the appellants and their evidence was trustworthy and confidence inspiring as they had seen appellants with the suicide bomber at the crime scene just before the blast, it added.

The order further noted that in term of the correct identification by eyewitnesses about the presence of both appellants at the shrine and being facilitators of suicide bomber, the CCTV/USB/DVR footage obtained from the shrine just before the bomb blast was extremely significant piece of evidence and the same had corroborated the evidence of eyewitnesses regarding presence of both appellants with the suicide bomber just before the blast.

About the defence plea, the bench said that the defence case was one of non-presence at the scene, but in the presence of judicial confessions and other prosecution evidence linking them to the suicide bomber, the defence plea was an afterthought in order to save their skin. According to the prosecution, both appellants were affiliated with IS, Murshid, a resident of Kashmor, and Furqan, a resident of Quetta.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2022

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