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August 21, 2019

SHC dismisses MQM activists’ appeals against convictions in PTI leader murder case


August 21, 2019

The Sindh High Court on Tuesday dismissed appeals of two Muttahida Qaumi Movement activists against their convictions in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader Zuhra Shahid’s murder case.

The court however commuted their death sentences into life imprisonment. Mohammad Rashid and Zahid Abbas Zaidi were sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court on August 31 last year having found them guilty of murdering the PTI leader in the Defence area on May 18, 2013.

According to the prosecution, the appellants had killed the PTI leader, who was canvasser of PTI candidate Dr Arif Alvi in May 2013 elections for National Assembly constituency NA-250 on orders of the MQM-Altaf’s high command to create fear in PTI voters and prevent them for casting votes in re-polling at some polling stations of the constituency.

The appellants’ counsel submitted that their clients were falsely implicated and they were kept in illegal detention prior to showing their arrests in the case. They said the prosecution failed to prove its case against the appellants and contended that the medical report and the forensic report of the weapon did not support the prosecution case. They also questioned the testimony of eyewitness Ghulam Rasool, a driver of the victim, with regard to the identification of the appellants.

The additional prosecutor general supported the prosecution case and impugned the judgment and submitted that the prosecution proved the case beyond any reasons of the doubt and the eyewitness identified the appellants with their specific roles. He requested the court to dismiss the appeals of the convicts.

A division bench headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha, after hearing the arguments of the counsel and perusal of the evidence, observed that appellant Zahid Abbas Zaidi being unit incharge of the MQM-Altaf for the Defence area and bearing in mind the intense political rivalry and bitterness over the fate of NA-250 of which the deceased was an active PTI canvasser had the motive to kill her in order to scare the PTI voters in that constituency.

The court observed that the appellant committed cold blood murder despite the woman being 70 years old. It further observed that there were some elements in the prosecution case which exposed minor doubts but not enough to hold that the prosecution had not proved its case beyond any reasonable doubt.

The court dismissed the appeals of the appellants; however, exercising discretion in light of a Supreme Court judgment commuted the death sentences awarded to them by the trial court to life imprisonment.

Detention case

The Sindh High Court issued notices to federal and provincial law officers and law enforcement agencies on a petition against the detention of a citizen allegedly by personnel of law enforcement agencies.

Petitioner Zeeshan submitted that his father Asif Zaheer was picked up by personnel of law enforcement agencies on August 15 from the Tariq Road area and his whereabouts were still unknown.

The petitioner’s counsel submitted that the detainee was earlier incarcerated in prison for his involvement in the Sheraton Hotel bomb blast case; however, his sentence by the trial court was set aside by the superior court. He requested the court to direct the police and other law enforcement agencies to produce the detainee before the court and provide details of cases if any against them.

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