Karachi: Police officer testifies in Sarfraz case
KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court on Friday recorded the statement of a prosecution witness, a deputy superintendent of police, who arrested six paramilitary soldiers and a civilian in connection with the murder case of Sarfraz Shah.
The presiding officer of the ATC-1 adjourned the hearing to Saturday after the examination in chief of DSP Altaf Hussain who will be cross-examined by the defence lawyers on Saturday. The police officer was the 19th witness out of the total 46 prosecution witnesses cited in the final charge-sheet.
The examined prosecution witnesses also included five eyewitnesses to the incident. They were Abdus Salam Soomro and Zahid Hussain Khokhar of a private TV channel, Abdur Rasheed, deputy district officer, parks, Mohammed Shahid, overseer, parks, and Mohammed Ramzan, chief gardener of the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto park.
Pakistan Rangers Sub-Inspector Bahaur Rehman, Lance Naik Liaquat Ali, constables Mohammad Tariq, Manthar Ali, Shahid Zafar and Afzal Khan and a private park contractor, Afsar Khan, have been charged with the murder of Sarfraz Shah who was shot at and then left to die inside the park in Clifton on June 8.
The murder was filmed by the cameraman of the private TV channel and broadcast round the clock on television. The Rangers personnel and the civilian were booked under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 36 (effect caused partly by act and partly by omission) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.
Meanwhile, a division bench of the Sindh High Court, headed by Chief Justice Mushir Alam, adjourned the hearing of an application of the accused Rangers personnel seeking transfer of his trial from the ATC to a sessions court.
Syed Salik Shah, brother of the victim and complainant in the case against the accused, appeared in court and submitted that he had not received a copy of the revision application seeking transfer of the case to a sessions court.
The court put off the matter to July 26 after the victim’s brother sought time to engage an attorney for proceeding with the defendant’s revision application.
The applicant’s counsel, Advocate Mehmood Alam Rizvi, stated that the matter was being proceeded under the ATA Act, 1997 with utmost expediency pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court and if the revision application was not decided at an early date it would become infructuous.
He contended that the trial court was conducting the trial in violation of Section 19 (1) of the ATC Act. He stated that no report of the JIT (joint investigation team) was brought on record and the matter was being proceeded without the production of the charge-sheet dated June 17.
Sindh Prosecutor General Shahadat Awan undertook to file a copy of the charge-sheet along with a statement before the next date.
Advocate Rizvi stated that he would be at liberty to raise questions as to the jurisdiction of the trial court, if the matter was proceeded and concluded before the next date of hearing. Being aggrieved with the order of the ATC that dismissed the transfer of trial application from ATC to sessions court, applicant Afzal Khan, one of the defendants, moved the SHC for the transfer of the trial from the ATC to the sessions court.
His counsel submitted that the ATC had no jurisdiction to try the case as the fact and circumstances of the case had no connection with the act of terrorism as defined under Section 6 of the anti-terror law.
He stated that in its suo motu notice the Supreme Court observed that the matter prima facie attracted Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act and directed for sending the charge-sheet before the competent jurisdiction.
The applicant’s counsel argued that the SC did not specifically direct that the trial be conducted under the ATA and directed the trial court to decide the case without being influenced in any manner from the instant proceedings of the Supreme Court’s suo motu notice.
He submitted in the application that the act of individual law-enforcement personnel could not be termed as an act of terrorism as the video footage also showed that the law-enforcement personnel had no intention to kill Sarfraz Shah.
Advocate Rizvi submitted that the law-enforcement personnel could not be treated as terrorists, saying that the morale of the law-enforcement agencies performing duties in most volatile areas of the city had lowered due to the trial of the Rangers personnel under the anti-terror law.
He prayed to the court to transfer the trial from the Anti Terrorism Court to a sessions court.