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Shahzeb Khan, 20 years old, was gunned down on 24th December, 2012. —File Photo

KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court adjourned on Saturday the hearing of a murder trial after a lawyer for the complainant expressed reservations over the replacement of a public prosecutor in the Shahzeb murder case.

When the matter came up for hearing before Judge Ghulam Mustafa Memon of the ATC-III on Saturday for the evidence of prosecution witnesses, prosecutor Shahid Mahmood informed the court that the provincial law department had issued a notification replacing him by Advocate Muzaffar Solangi, a prosecutor at the ATC-II, in the present case.

Prosecutor Solangi was present in the courtroom and the judge directed him to proceed with the trial. However, the lawyer for the complainant moved an adjournment application stating that his client wanted to challenge the replacement of the prosecutor.

An application of the investigation officer of the case was also attached with the complainant’s plea in which the IO requested the SSP-South to ask the law secretary to reappoint Mr Mahmood as the prosecutor since he had been pleading the case after the indictment of the accused.

The newly-appointed prosecutor raised no objection to the complainant’s plea for adjournment and the court put off the hearing till March 18.

Earlier, special public prosecutor Abdul Maroof had been replaced by prosecutor of the ATC-I Shahid Mehmood on March 1 by the law department. Advocate Maroof had sent a letter to the law department requesting it to disengage him from the case since he opposed the trial under the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and his opinion conflicted with the order of the trial court.

On Feb 22, the court accepted the charge-sheet for trial after rejecting a scrutiny note of prosecutor Maroof that Sections 6 and 7 of the ATA were not applicable to the case as element of terrorism was missing.

Shahrukh Jatoi, Nawab Siraj Ali Talpur, his younger brother Nawab Sajjad Ali Talpur and their house servant Ghulam Murtaza Lashari have been charged with killing 20-year-old Shahzeb in Defence Housing Authority on the night of Dec 24, 2012.

The prosecution has so far examined nine of the 53 witnesses.

The Supreme Court had directed the trial court to dispose of the case within seven days, but the trial court had recently sought one-month extension in the deadline, which was granted.