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Twist in Shahzeb murder case as friend, neighbour change statements

Published Mar 26, 2013 01:05am

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

KARACHI: Two prosecution witnesses — a friend and a neighbour of the slain Shahzeb — on Monday deviated from their respective statements earlier given to police in which they had held prime accused Shahrukh Jatoi and others accused responsible for the incident when they did not identify any of them before an anti-terrorism court conducting the murder trial.

The two witnesses — Sheharyar Ali and Mohammad Ali Amir — appeared before Judge Ghulam Mustafa Memon of the ATC-III to record their statements.

While the two witnesses deviated from their statements recorded by the police under Section 161 of the criminal procedure code, Special Public Prosecutor Muntazir Mehdi neither raised any objection nor requested the court to declare them hostile during the proceedings.

However, he filed a written application in court later asking it to recall the witnesses. Witness Ali, a neighbour and friend of the victim Shahzeb, deposed in court that on the night of Dec 24, 2012 he came out of his apartment to play cricket.

He said there was a power breakdown and some people gathered at the reception of the apartment building were talking to one another.

After a while, Shahzeb’s father DSP Aurangzeb, the complainant, went to his flat and Shahzeb went away in his car, he said, adding that he had seen the complainant and his son near the reception, but he had not recognised the persons with whom the talks were being held.

He did not identify the accused persons, who were present in the courtroom. However, he admitted that the contents of his statement recorded by the police under Section 161 of the CrPC were read over to him.

According to his statement under Section 161, Mr Ali stated that some bickering took place after a servant of the Talpur brothers teased the sister of Shahzeb and Shahrukh Jatoi, Siraj Talpur, Sajjad Talpur and their servant were beating up Shahzeb and his father was trying to stop them.

The victim apologised to them on the instruction of his father, but Shahrukh declared to exterminate him. Shahzeb went away as his father asked him to do so while Shahrukh resorted to firing into the air and with his accomplices followed the victim’s vehicle, he had told the police.

Mr Amir, who was a neighbour of the slain Shahzeb, testified that on the night of Dec 24 at around 11:30pm he was walking near his apartment due to a power failure.

He said he heard commotion and came near the building and saw some boys were arguing with Shahzeb. The victim’s father was also present and he asked his son to leave and Shahzeb went away in his car while the boys also left in their vehicle, he added.

Pointing to the accused persons, the witness said that they were not present at the crime scene.

However, he had earlier told the police in his statement under Section 161 that after hearing commotion he came downstairs and saw that a man, who said his name is Shahrukh Jatoi, was extending threats to Shahzeb. The victim’s father was also there and he asked his son to seek pardon from the accused and the victim did so, but they became enraged and Shahzeb went away on his father’s directive.

The witness, who had named all the detained accused, said Shahrukh resorted to firing into the air and then they went after Shahzeb.

The court also recorded the testimony of a third witness of the day, Sub-Inspector Nasrullah. He deposed that he was a witness of the memos of arrest of the Talpur brothers and their servant, recovery of the crime weapon and a vehicle on a lead of Shahrukh, arrest of Shahrukh, and inspection of a place near Seaview where Siraj had thrown his pistol.

The defence lawyers cross-examined the witnesses.

However, SPP Mehdi, who was recently appointed in the present case, did not request the court to declare the two witnesses hostile as they had deviated from their previous statements.

Judge Ghulam Mustafa Memon of the ATC-III, who is conducting the trial on a day-to-day basis, adjourned the hearing till Tuesday for the evidence of remaining witnesses.

Later, after the hearing was adjourned, the prosecutor submitted an application under Section 193 (punishment for false evidence) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 150 (question by party to is own witness) of the Qanun-i-Shahadat Order in court asking it to recall both the witnesses, as he was willing to make a request to declare them hostile and permit him to cross-examine them since they did not tell the truth to the court and deviated from their last statements.

He also asked the court to put them on trial for false evidence.

The court issued notices to the defence lawyers as well as witnesses on the application for Wednesday.

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.

The prosecution has so far examined 15 witnesses and abandoned one out of 53 witnesses.