Karachi: Charge-sheet filed against Rangers men in youth`s murder case
KARACHI: Police on Saturday filed a final charge-sheet in court against six personnel of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, and a civilian holding them responsible for the cold-blooded murder of a young man who was shot at and left to die in the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park on June 8.
The charge-sheet was filed before the administrative judge of the anti–terrorism courts, Justice Maqbool Baqar of the Sindh High Court, against all the seven suspects — Sub-Inspector Bahaur Rehman, Lance Naik Liaquat Ali, Sepoy Mohammad Tariq, mobile van driver Manthar Ali, Shahid Zafar, Afzal Khan and an employee of the park, Afsar Khan.
The suspects were charge-sheeted under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 34 (common intention), 36 (effect caused partly by act and partly by omission) of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 (punishment for acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
The administrative judge accepted the charge-sheet and sent it to the Anti-Terrorism Court No 1 for formal trial. The trial court will take up the matter on Monday.
In his brief response, Special Prosecutor Arshad Iqbal Cheema told reporters outside the chamber of Justice Maqbool Baqar that the charge-sheet contained 46 prosecution witnesses, including two eyewitnesses Abdul Salam Soomro, the cameramen who had filmed the gruesome killing, and Abdul Rashid, the deputy district officer of the city government`s parks department.
He said that the video footage made by the cameramen had also been examined and it was confirmed that it was original and had not been doctored.
He said that 14 articles — including the G-3 rifle used in the offence, blood-soaked clothes of the victim, the camera used in filming the scene — had been seized by the police and these were mentioned in the list of case properties.
He said that all the seven men nominated in the case were in custody and no one was shown as absconder in the case.
Maintaining strict secrecy, the public prosecutor ensured that the media did not get a copy of the charge-sheet. He did not allow any reporter to read the contents of the charge-sheet and refused to read it out by himself when some reporters requested him to do so.
“This is too technical and the media cannot understand it,” he said. The prosecutor`s response fuelled speculation that there was some pressure on the police and the prosecutor and they, therefore, did not want to share with the media contents of the charge-sheet, which has become a public document.
Sarfraz Shah was shot to death allegedly by Rangers personnel on June 8 inside the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park within the remit of the Boat Basin police station. The Rangers initially claimed that the youth was armed and killed in an encounter. However, video footage aired by television channels clearly showed that the unarmed youth was shot to death by the Rangers personnel at point-blank range as he first pleaded for mercy and later begged to be taken to hospital.
A case (FIR 227/2011) was registered at the Boat Basin police station on a complaint of the victim`s brother, Saalik Shah, under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
The Supreme Court took suo motu notice of the gruesome murder and on June 10 appointed DIG Sultan Khawaja inquiry office of the case directing him to complete the investigations and file a charge-sheet within seven days. After the intervention of the apex court, the police authorities had incorporated Section 7 of the ATA, 1997 in the FIR and got the remand of all the suspects from the administrative judge of ATCs. The Supreme Court had also ordered the authorities to complete the trial of the case within 30 days.
Two eyewitnesses had recorded their statements under Section 164 of the criminal procedure code before a judicial magistrate and attributed the role of the seven suspects in the commissioning of the offence.