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March 21, 2020

SHC sets aside death sentence of convict in quintuple murder case

Karachi

March 21, 2020

The Sindh High Court on Friday set aside the death sentence of a convict in a quintuple kidnapping and murder case. Asif Iqbal, a former activist of the Muttahida Quami Movement, was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court after having found him guilty of kidnapping five persons and later killing them on July 6, 2011.

According to the prosecution, the appellant along with other absconding co-accused persons kidnapped bus driver Mohammad Wali along with passengers Ghulam Jan, Ahmed Jan, Aurangzaib and Riaz Balioch from Karachi’s Liqauatabad area and later killed them and left their bodies in the passenger bus in Block-1 of the Gulshan-e-Iqbal area.

The appellant’s counsel, Mohammad Farooq, submitted that the prosecution falsely implicated his client in the case, saying that three separate FIRs had been registered in three different police stations.

He said that an identification parade of the appellant could not be relied upon as no recovery was made from the appellant. He requested the court to acquit the appellant from charges, saying no direct evidence had been found against him and that the benefit of doubt should be given to him.

The assistant prosecutor general supported the judgment of the anti-terrorism court and submitted that the statement of an eyewitness was reliable and trustworthy as the eyewitness had confidently identified the appellant at the identification parade. He said the prosecution proved its case against the appellant and request the court to dismiss the petition.

However, the SHC’s division bench, headed by Justice Mohammad Karim Khan Agha, after hearing the arguments and perusal of the evidence observed that the evidence of eyewitness, namely Fazalur Rehman, who was also a relative of one of the deceased, could not be relied upon who stated that he had managed to escape from the bus without being killed, since he recorded the statement two months after the incident without offering any explanation.

The court observed that the case against the appellant was doubtful as despite the appellant was under police custody and eyewitness was available after registration of the second FIR, no identification parade was conducted and in fact it was done after the registration of the third FIR.

The court observed that the evidence of the eyewitness could not be relied upon against the appellant. The court set aside the conviction of the appellant, saying the prosecution had failed to prove its case against him. The court ordered the police to release him if not required in other cases.