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Supreme Court officer murdered

Published May 15, 2007 12:00am

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ISLAMABAD, May 14: Supreme Court’s additional registrar Syed Hammad Amjad Raza was shot dead by four men who broke into his house before dawn on Monday. Talking to Dawn, a police officer claimed that the murder had been committed by robbers, but Mr Amjad Raza’s widow Shabana, a witness to the killing, said it was a target killing. She alleged that the government and agencies were involved in the murder.

She said that she saw several policemen lurking around in the lawn of her house when she ran out crying for help, but they did nothing to catch the culprits. She vowed to do everything possible to bring those responsible to justice.

Her brother, Abid Hussain Shah, also insisted that it was not a case of robbery, because nothing had been found missing from the house, except two cellphones. “It’s a target killing and a message to judges,” he said.

Soon after the murder, judges of the Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, visited Mr Raza’s house and, taking suo motu action, ordered the Inspector General of Police and the Senior Superintendent of Police of Islamabad to appear before the court on Tuesday.

“We will supervise the police investigation and will take care of the family,” Justice Javed Iqbal told reporters.

“Law and order is deteriorating in the country and it is a moment to think for everybody,” he said.

IGP Iftikhar Ahmad told Dawn that a seven-member police team had been constituted to investigate the murder “on different lines”.

Two officers of the British High Commission, Consular Albert David and Helen Rawlins, also visited Mr Raza’s house and talked to the widow who is a British national.

When asked about their meeting with Ms Shabana, the diplomats said that being a British national “she had requested us to provide her security” but gave no details.

According to the family, four people broke into Mr Raza’s official residence through the kitchen window at around 4.15am. They overpowered his parents who lived on the ground floor, tied them up and asked them about Mr Raza.

Syed Amjad Ali Mashedi Rizvi, father of Mr Raza, said the intruders held the teenage housemaid Ashee at gunpoint and forced her to take them upstairs to Mr Raza’s bedroom.

“As my husband responded to the knocks and opened the door, we saw four clean-shaven men in trousers and shalwar kameez. They were aged between 28 and 35. One of them was holding a pistol and another carried a knife. On seeing Hammad, the gunman shot him in the head and fled,” Ms Shabana said.

She said she ran downstairs crying for help and was surprised to see some policemen in the lawn. They did not do anything. However, police officer Shaukat Pervaiz, a neighbour, responded to her screams. SP Pervaiz, who is detailed with the prime minister’s security squad, shouted at a police patrol, standing about 100 feet away from his house, to catch the culprits but by the time the patrol moved the attackers had disappeared.

Security agencies had questioned Mr Raza for four days after the removal of Chief Justice Iftikhar.

Acting Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas visited the residence of Mr Raza, who served as a DMG officer in Balochistan before being brought to the Supreme Court by Justice Iftikhar.

The acting chief justice directed the registrar of the Supreme Court to make arrangements with regard to burial and other matters and prepare a compensation package for the widow and children of the deceased.

Asif Shahzad adds from Lahore: Mr Raza was buried in Lahore’s Allama Iqbal Town.

Talking to Dawn, Intizar Mehdi, a cousin of the deceased, alleged that it was a target killing. “The moment Hammad opened the door, the intruders shot him in the head without having any argument,” he said, adding that the robbers would not act the way the killers had. There was a lot of jewellery and cash in the house but the gunmen had not touched anything, he said.

The deceased is survived by the wife and three children.


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