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Indictment in DHA double murder case deferred yet again

Karachi

May 31, 2020

A district and sessions court on Saturday deferred the indictment of the Zaman brothers in the DHA double murder case once again after the prison authorities did not produce them during the hearing.

Expressing displeasure, the additional district and sessions judge (South) in the Central Jail’s judicial complex put off the hearing until June 13 and sought explanation from the central jail superintendent and Adil Zaman, the suspect who is on bail, over their absence.

Atif Zaman and his brother Adil Zaman have been booked for the murder of anchorperson Mureed Abbas and Khizar Hayat. According to the prosecution, Atif owed money to the victims and upon their insistence on returning the amount, he, with the connivance of Adil, allegedly killed them both on July 9, 2019, in Defence Housing Authority.

According to the charge sheet, Atif called Abbas and Hayat, who were his business partners, to different places in DHA on the pretext of returning some of the amount he owed to them. He first allegedly shot Hayat at a traffic signal and later went to kill Abbas in an office. CCTV footage showed Adil accompanying Atif during this spree.

After the killings, Atif locked himself in his flat in the same neighbourhood and when police went to arrest him, he shot himself in the torso. He was then taken to a private hospital where he remained in critical care for a few days, and as he regained consciousness, the police claimed that he wanted to confess to his crime.

Contrary to the police’s claim, when produced before a judicial magistrate, Atif refuted his confession and instead opted to contest the charges. Following the setback, the police added a clause of the anti-terrorism law in the case which later was dropped on the court orders and the case was referred back for a session trial.

Since the beginning, the case has been facing dramatic delays. The court had fixed the framing of charges against the suspects in November last year; however, it has not been able to do so yet owing to reasons similar to those on Saturday. On a previous hearing, the court had observed that if the defence lawyers did not maintain attendance, the suspects would be provided lawyers by the court and the case would proceed.

According to the police, a number of people, including the victims, had invested money in a tyre business of Atif, but the suspect had not been paying his investors for months, saying that his business had suffered losses.

Due to the shady nature of the scheme, the National Accountability Bureau has also started an inquiry into the apparent scam. Recently, a banking court sought a reply from Atif over a complaint filed against him by a bank for the recovery of Rs5 million.

The FIRs in the murder case were registered under sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 325 (attempt to commit suicide) of the Pakistan Penal Code and section 23(1)a of the Sindh Arms Act at the Darakhshan police station.