KARACHI, April 14: The chief and general secretary of the banned Harkatul Mujahideen Al-Aalmi were on Monday sentenced to death and two other members of the party to life term for killing 12 people and injuring 43 others in a car bomb attack on the US consulate last year.

Judge Aley Maqbool Rizvi of the Anti-terrorism Court No. 1 also imposed a fine of Rs500,000 each on Aalmi chief, Mohammed Imran, and his deputy, Mohammed Hanif alias Ayub. In case of default, they will have to undergo imprisonment for five years.

The judge, who conducted the trial inside the Central Prison, acquitted the finance secretary of the banned outfit, Mohammed Ashraf Khan, as the prosecution failed to bring incriminating evidence against him.

Two party activists, Sharib Arsalan Farooqui alias Asadullah alias Zahid alias Uncle and Hafiz Mohammed Zubair alias Farhan alias Mufti Mohammed Hashim alias Ahmed, who were sentenced to serve life in jail. They were also fined Rs5000,000 each.

Twelve people — constable Mohammed Azam, Mohammed Ilyas, Mohammed Rizwan, Dr Aliya Waris, Shafaat Ahmed Rizvi, Ikramullah Awan, Nida Nazeer, Nazish Kareem Hussain, Farkhunda Jabeen, Mohammed Ashraf Hussain, Rehana Perveen, Rizwan Bano and head constable Obaidullah — were killed in the blast.

Forty-three others, including seven policemen were injured in the blast that had also damaged 19 vehicles. The main case against accused Imran and Hanif, who were handed down the maximum punishment, was based on ocular evidence, confessional statements and identification by the two eyewitnesses.

“The confessional statements of accused Mohammed Imran and Mohammed Hanif were corroborated by the evidence of the two eyewitnesses, who, while giving evidence before this court, have fully identified the accused and have given a specific role to the accused,” the judge observed in his 26-page judgment.

In his statement before the court, prosecution witness Shah Mohammed Hussain, one of the two eyewitnesses, deposed that on June 14, 2002 he was going to Saddar from Clifton by taxi. He stated that when the taxi he was travelling in stopped at the traffic lights near Clifton Bridge, a Suzuki pickup came and stopped on the left side. The PW said that two persons were in the front seats and four were at the back. He saw them step out of the vehicle and embrace each other. And then they began walking towards the pavement, except the driver. He said when the traffic light turned green and his taxi was near the consulate, suddenly there was an explosion.

Mohammed Ramzan, the other eyewitness who was riding along the same road on his motorcycle, also stated to have seen the accused embracing each other at the traffic lights on Hoshang Road a little before the blast.

The prime witnesses, who had also identified the accused before a judicial magistrate during an identification parade, deposed that they saw accused Imran, Hanif, Sharif and Zubair embracing each other as they stopped at the traffic lights.

The judge also referred to the arguments of Abdul Waheed Katpar, counsel for Mohammed Hanif, who contended that one of the eyewitnesses said that the Suzuki pickup in which the accused were travelling had a hood, while, according to the other eyewitness, the vehicle had no hood.

The judge referred to the testimonies of the two eyewitnesses and observed: “The PWs have stated before this court that they had seen the accused getting down from a Suzuki pickup and embracing the driver, and they have stated that the Suzuki loading and the Suzuki pickup are one and the same thing.”

The defence counsel also contended that the confessional statements of the accused were neither voluntary nor true.

Mr Katpar also argued that Hanif was arrested on June 18 and the parade for his identification was held on July 8.

Raza Ali Abidi, counsel for Imran and Zubair, and Maqbool-ur- Rahman, counsel for Sharib, made brief arguments as they mainly adopted the arguments advanced by Mr Katpar.

Mr Abidi argued that the duration of the traffic lights was only 30 seconds and it was impossible for the eyewitnesses to remember the faces or features of the accused persons.

Mr Rahman contended that the pictures of his client had appeared in a newspaper, therefore, the identification has lost its evidenciary value.

The judge acquitted accused Mohammed Ashraf, represented by Khawaja Naveed, as there was only one piece of evidence against him, i.e confessional statement recorded in another case of Airport police.

“The two eyewitnesses namely, Mohammed Ramzan and Shah Mohammed Hussain have fully implicated all the accused in the commission of the present offence except Mohammed Ashraf, against whom no evidence has been led by the above witnesses.”

Khawaja Naveed argued that there was absolutely no case against his client. He argued that there was no identification parade of the accused in the present case, nor was he seen by any eyewitness.

The defence counsel also argued that the other two accused, Mohammed Imran and Mohammed Hanif, had not implicated his client in their confessional statements.

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