Friday September 22, 2023

Judge to decide fate of out-of-court settlement in Nazim Jokhio murder case on Jan 12

December 24, 2022

A sessions court on Friday set January 12 for the pronouncement of its verdict on an application filed by Nazim Jokhio’s family and detained Pakistan Peoples Party lawmaker Jam Awais and co-accused seeking validation of their out-of-court settlement in the local journalist’s murder case.

The MPA and seven of his servants and guards – Mohammad Mairaj, Mohammad Saleem, Ahmed Khan, Doda Khan, Mohammad Soomar, Haider Ali and Meer Ali -- have been charged with abetting, kidnapping and torturing the 26-year-old man to death at his farmhouse in Malir in November last year.

On Friday, Additional District and Sessions Judge (Malir) Faraz Ahmed Chandio indicted Soomar, Doda Khan and their absconding accomplice Niaz Salar on the charge of kidnapping Jokhio before his murder.

Soomar and Khan, who appeared on bail, pleaded not guilty to the charge. The judge subsequently directed the prosecution to present its witnesses to record their testimonies against the accused on the next date and adjourned the hearing until January 12.

MPA Awais along with his seven guards/servants has already been indicted for torturing to Jokhio and concealing evidence. At the previous hearing, the state prosecutor had moved an application requesting the judge to frame amended charge against the lawmaker’s three servants under Section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) for kidnapping the victim before his murder. He said the court had on December 10 framed charges against Awais along with his seven servants -- Mohammad Mairaj, Mohammad Saleem, Ahmed Khan, Doda Khan, Mohammad Soomar, Haider Ali and Meer Ali.

However, he said that the charge of abducting Jokhio before his murder was incorrectly framed against Haider, Meer and Ahmed instead of Soomar, Doda and Niaz Salar who had allegedly kidnapped him.

Meanwhile, advocates Wazeer Hussain Khoso and Asadullah Memon, who represented the MPA and co-accused, as well as the counsel for the complainant of the case, Afzal Jokhio, and widow Shireen, and the prosecutor advanced their arguments on the application, seeking validation of an out-of-court settlement reached between the legal heirs of the victim and the accused.

The judge fixed January 12 for the pronouncement of his verdict on the compromise application as well as on the plea filed by the National Commission for Human Rights seeking to become intervener in the murder trial proceedings. He said NCHR lawyer Jibran Nasir, who was called absent, can forward his arguments on his application before the announcement of the order.

On September 25, the accused and legal heirs had filed the application in the court stating that both parties had patched up after the “intervention of elders” and that the family would have no objection if the accused are acquitted.

In her statement recorded before the court, Shireen had said she being one of the legal heirs of the deceased entered into a compromise with Jam Awais and five of his servants – Muhammad Mairaj, Muhammad Saleem Salar, Muhammad Doda Khan, Muhammad Soomar and Ahmed Khan Shoro – without any pressure or coercion and forgave them in the name of Almighty Allah and do no claim any Diyat for herself. However, she demanded her children’s share in the Diyat amount from the accused.

In her statement, the victim’s mother said she had pardoned the six accused – Jam Awais and five co-accused -- without accepting any Diyat (blood money) but refused to forgive Meer Ali, Haider Ali and Niaz Salar. However, Saleem later filed an application in the court, requesting the judge to allow him to withdraw the compromise plea.