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Prime suspect sent to lock-up in Shahzeb murder case

January 17, 2013

KARACHI, Jan 17: An anti-terrorism court on Thursday remanded a newly arrested suspect in police custody in the Shahzeb murder case and extended the physical remand of three other suspects till Jan 23, while police released one suspect for want of evidence.

Nawab Siraj Ali Talpur, 22, his brother Nawab Sajjad Ali Talpur, 21, and their servant Ghulam Murtaza Lashari, 23, who have been in police custody since Jan 7, along with the newly-arrested suspect, Shahrukh Jatoi, were brought to the court with their faces covered in an armoured personnel carrier in the afternoon.

While producing the suspects in court for remand, investigating officer inspector Mohammad Mobin filed a report in the court stating that two eyewitnesses recorded their statements before a magistrate against Siraj, Sajjad and Murtaza under Section 164 of the criminal procedure code. He added that the suspects also rightly led the police to the crime scene.

The report stated that Sikandar Ali Jatoi, father of Shahrukh Jatoi, was arrested in the case under Section 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code on Dec 10 and the following day he was remanded in police custody.

It added that during the course of investigation solid evidence was not found against Sikandar, therefore, he was released under Section 497(ii) of the CrPC.

Asif Lund and Salman Jatoi were shown absconders in the report.

While seeking his custody, the investigating officer stated that Shahrukh was arrested on Thursday and the police needed to interrogate him, arrest the absconders on a lead given by the detained suspects, recover weapons and vehicle used in the offence and complete other legal formalities.

The officer explained that the Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice of the case and as he had been appearing before the apex court in Islamabad he remained unable to give proper time to the investigation of the case. Therefore, he said, the custody of the suspects was needed till Jan 29. However, Judge Ghulam Mustafa Memon of the ATC-III handed the custody of the suspects over to the police on physical remand till Jan 23. As the suspects were produced in court after 3pm, the court directed the investigating officer to produce them before 1pm in future.

As per IO and the remand papers, Sikandar Jatoi has reported to be released under Section 497(ii) of the CrPC, hence the investigating officer was directed to submit a proper report about the release of the suspect, the court ruled.

Section 497 (ii) says, “If it appears to such officer or court at any stage of the investigation, inquiry or trial, as the case may be, that there are no reasonable grounds for believing that the accused committed a non-bailable offence, but that there are sufficient grounds for further inquiry into his guilt, the accused shall, pending such inquiry, be released on bail, or, at the discretion of such officer or court, on the execution by him of a bond without sureties for his appearance as hereinafter provided”.

Meanwhile, a counsel for Shahrukh Jatoi submitted three applications in the court about his client being underage, production of evidence of spent bullet casings and what he described as his client’s illegal arrest.

The counsel said that the trial of the applicant be held separately from other suspects as required under Section 5 of the Juvenile Justice Ordinance because he was under 18 years at the time of the alleged offence.

In the other application, it was submitted that the investigating officer be directed to produce the spent bullet casings reportedly found from the crime-scene as the same might be misused and foisted upon the applicant. Opposing the plea, public prosecutor Abdul Maroof argued that it would amount to intervening in the process of investigation.

The defence counsel also challenged the ‘illegal’ arrest of the applicant, citing that the police had not produced any document about the handing over of his client to the Karachi police in Dubai.

Ossification test ordered

The court ordered ossification test of the suspect to determine his age at services hospital and directed the investigating officer to submit its report on the next hearing.

Later, notices were issued to the prosecutor on the other two applications for next hearing.

According to the prosecution, the victim and the suspects had an altercation after the latter had tried to tease his sister. While the issue was settled by some elders, the suspects had allegedly killed the victim by opening indiscriminate fire on his vehicle on the night of Dec 24 in Phase V of Defence Housing Authority.

Initially, the case (FIR No 591/2012) was lodged under Section 302 (premeditated murder), 109 (abetment) and 34 (common intention) of the PPC on a complaint of the deceased’s father, Aurangzeb, a deputy superintendent of police, at the Darakhshan police station. However, during the investigation, Section 354 (assault or use of criminal force on woman with intent to outrage her modestly) of the PPC and Section 7 of Anti-terrorism Act were incorporated in the FIR.