The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Tuesday set aside life imprisonment sentence of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London (MQM-L) activists in a union council vice chairman’s murder case as the prosecution failed to prove charges.
Syed Mohammad Asif Raees was sentenced to life imprisonment by an anti-terrorism court for murdering union council vice chairman Rafa-e-Aam Mohammad Rashid on June 30, 2017. According to the prosecution, the appellant, along with his co-accused, had killed Rashid, who belonged to the MQM’s Farooq Sattar group, at the instigation of the MQM-London chief and Rabita Committee (Central) leader Kehkashan Baji after he changed his loyalty to the Farooq Sattar group.
The appellant’s counsel submitted that the appellant was illegally detained by the Rangers and later falsely implicated in the murder case. He further said that the identification parade was not conducted in accordance with the law and the alleged weapon of crime was foisted upon him by the police.
The additional prosecutor general submitted that eyewitnesses had rightly identified the appellant as being one of the persons who killed Rashid; besides, empties of the bullets fired had matched the pistol found on the appellant. He sought dismissal of the appeal supporting the trial court judgment.
A division, bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha, after hearing the arguments of the counsel and perusal of the evidence, observed that it has not come in evidence that eyewitness had claimed in his police statement that he could recognise the culprits if he saw them again.
The court disregarded the evidence of the eyewitnesses, observing that the eyewitnesses were either not present at the time of the incident or they would not have been able to correctly and reliably identify the appellant to connect him with the murder.
The high court also observed that the prosecution failed to prove the recovery had of the crime weapon from the appellant and matching it with the empties found at the scene. It said that the prosecution must prove its case against the accused beyond a reasonable doubt as the benefit of doubt must go to the accused by way of right as opposed to concession.
The court observed that the prosecution did not prove and the benefit of doubt is extended to the appellant. It set aside the trial court order and ordered releasing him if not required in other cases.