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January 8, 2015

Two death row convicts challenge black warrants


January 8, 2015

The Sindh High Court on Wednesday issued notices to home department, interior ministry and others on petitions by two death row convicts against issuance of black warrants.
The convicts have taken the plea that they were not affiliated with any banned militant outfit.
Shafqat Hussain and Bahram Khan were sentenced to death by the anti-terrorism courts after having found them guilty of murdering a seven-year-old boy Umair in April 2004 and killing a lawyer Mohammad Ashraf in April 2003 in two separate cases. Their appeals against conviction had been turned down by the High Court and Supreme Court as well.
Petitioners Peer Bux and Gul Zaman had submitted that the anti-terrorism court had issued black warrants for six death row convicts involved in terror-related cases including for Shafqat Hussain and Bahram Khan, who both were not affiliated with any terrorist or banned militant outfits.
Their counsel added that after the Peshawar tragedy the government had decided to lift moratorium on death punishment so that terrorists affiliated with banned militant outfit could be punished. However, he submitted that the anti-terrorism court while issuing death warrants for four other convicts of banned outfits also issued execution warrants of Shafqat and Bahram.
According to the government policy, the counsel said, only convicts affiliated with banned organisations would be executed in the first phase but the black warrants for the petitioners’ brothers were also obtained in an arbitrarily manner and without justification.
He maintained that mercy appeals of convicts were also rejected by the president in haste and without due consideration of the facts of their cases. He stated that jail authorities had asked the family members of the convicts to have their last meeting before their execution that was fixed on January 13 and 14 in Karachi and Sukkur prison.
The petitioners requested the court to direct federal authorities to

suspend the execution orders of convicts and submit details regarding its policy in respect of the executions.
The division bench, headed by Mohammad Ali Mazhar, after preliminary hearing of the petitions issued notice to the federal and provincial law officers, home secretary and interior ministry and called their comments by January 9. The court also directed official of home department to appear in person on next date of hearing.
Detention cases
The court has issued notices to federal and provincial law officers, IG Sindh and Rangers on a petition against illegal detention of four citizens allegedly by the personnel of law enforcement agencies.
Najma Khatoon, Mohammad Aslam, Nida Siddiqui and Saba Mirza had submitted that Syed Mohammad Nadeem Faisal, Junaid Aslam, Ayaz Ahmed Siddiqui and Mirza Zeeshan were picked up by the personnel of law enforcement agencies in first week of January and December from Moosa Colony, Nazimabad, Shadman Town and Buffer Zone areas and their whereabouts were unknown as yet.
They maintained that police were not disclosing whereabouts of detainees and prayed the court to direct the official respondents to produce the detainees before the court and provide details of charges if any against them. They also sought release of the detainees if not required in any cases.

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