PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court has upheld acquittal of five police officials by a trial court in a famous case of custodial killing of a suspect at a police station in Shangla around three years ago.

A bench consisting of Justice Mohammad Naeem Anwar and Justice Shahid Khan rejected an appeal filed by the provincial government against the judgment of the trial court delivered on June 14, 2022, whereby additional station house officer (ASHO) at Karora police station Naseeb Zada and four other cops Laiq Mohammad, Attaullah, Aleemullah Khan and Altaf Hussain were acquitted.

The prime accused, Naseeb Zada, was acquitted as he had entered into compromise with the family of the deceased person Syed Ali Akbar Shah and had also paid the diyat (blood money) to his legal heirs.

Matter between the complainant and principal accused had been settled, court observes

The occurrence had triggered a protest in Karora area after which an FIR was registered on Jun 18, 2020, and the five accused police officials were arrested.

The district sessions judge/zila qazi Shangla had acquitted the accused under section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers the trial court to acquit an accused before completion of trial if there was no probability of his conviction keeping in view the available evidence.

Complainant in the case was a brother of the deceased named Syed Mohammad

Shah who had stated that his brother was arrested by the accused Naseeb Zada, in his capacity of ASHO police station Karora, in connection with a narcotics case from the bazzar and thereafter he was shifted to the police station concerned.

The complainant also alleged that on way to the police station his brother was severely beaten and warned of dire consequences.

He further alleged that when he met his brother in the premises of the police station, he was informed by him that the Naseeb Zada, had severely beaten him and subjected him to torture.

He claimed that he was present at the police station when he was informed about the death of his brother and told that he had committed suicide. He then charged Naseeb Zada and the four other accused for the unnatural death of his brother.

The accused persons were indicted by the trial court but they had pleaded not guilty to the charge and decided to face trial.

The high court bench ruled that the peculiar facts and circumstances of the event and scanning of the evidence so furnished had driven the court to the conclusion that the trial court had arrived at the correct conclusion to exercise its mandate under section 265-K of the CrPC followed by acquittal of the accused persons.

The bench observed that during the trial the complainant on his turn in the witness box as a prosecution witness had disclosed clearly that he was not an eyewitness to the occurrence.

The bench observed that it was a hard fact that the matter between the complainant/aggrieved party and the principal accused, Naseeb Zada, had been settled and on this score alone the complainant had lost his interest to further prosecute him.

About the other four accused officials the bench observed that the evidence so recorded during the trial would transpire that none of the prosecution witnesses could be able to disclose loud and clear regarding the involvement of the co-accomplices in the event.

Published in Dawn, September 18th, 2023

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