Sarfraz murder case: Rangers man’s gun went off accidentally
KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court on Friday recorded the testimonies of two defence witnesses in the Sarfraz Shah murder case. Sub-Inspector Bahaur Rehman, Lance Naik Liaquat Ali, Constables Mohammad Tariq, Manthar Ali, Shahid Zafar and Afzal Khan of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, and a private contractor, Afsar Khan, have been facing trial in the case.
According to the prosecution, Sarfraz Shah was shot at and then left to die inside the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park in Clifton on June 8.
Shahid Zafar examined Colonel Salman Ahmed Khan of Pakistan Rangers in his defence. The colonel deposed that the provincial government had assigned a special duty to Rangers and these personnel were on official duty when the incident happened.
He testified that a citizen called the Rangers to arrest a robber, who was looting the people at the park. He said the accused Rangers personnel repeatedly directed Sarfraz Shah to keep a distance but he tried to snatch their weapons. In the meantime, the gun of one of the accused “accidentally went off” that left the victim wounded. He said the men committed neither an act of terrorism nor of murder.
While cross-examining the defence witness, special public prosecutor Mohammad Khan Buriro asked him to produce his CNIC and service cards in the court.
When he failed to produce the cards, the court told him that the people were not allowed by the Rangers to leave if they did not carry their cards.
Subsequently, the colonel managed to produce his CNIC and a copy of the letter stating that the service card of the witness was sent to the general headquarters (GHQ) for renewal.
The prosecutor then asked the witness if he had a written permission from the authorities concerned to make the statement. The witness said he got only a verbal permission.
The prosecutor further asked the witness whether he was present during the press conference by the then director general of Pakistan Rangers, Sindh, who condemned the incident and reportedly stated that it was “not an institutional act”, but a personal act on the part of the accused. The defence witness replied in the negative and reiterated that this was “not a personal act”.
Manthar Ali and Mohammad Tariq examined Alam Zab, who claimed to be a police head constable, in their defence.
Mr Zab stated that on June 8, he along with his friend, Hira, was present inside the Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Park when the deceased tried to rob them at gunpoint. But he managed to overpower the robber and handed him over to Afsar Khan, who assured him that the deceased would be handed over to Rangers, the witness said. He added that he recorded a similar statement before a joint investigation team.
During cross-examination, he denied that the accused were known to him. Replying to another question of the prosecutor, the witness said it was incorrect to suggest that he did not have a good reputation in the police department and also faced suspension.
The prosecutor then asked him if it was true that he was no more an employee of the police department because the service card he produced in court stood expired on Dec 31, 2009.
The defence witness replied in the negative and insisted that he was still a head constable of police. In the previous hearing, accused Shahid Zafar had named the chief executive officer of a private TV channel and driver of Chhipa ambulance as defence witnesses, while private accused Afsar Khan told the court that he would examine three prosecution witnesses, including investigation officer DIG Sultan Khawaja, DSP Altaf Hussain and Sub-Inspector Nasrullah, in his defence.
The defence counsel had moved applications under Section 265-F (7) of the criminal procedure code requesting the court to summon these witnesses.
Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso of the ATC-I allowed one of the applications seeking to summon the ambulance driver and dismissed the remaining pleas.
The court summoned the ambulance driver, Mohammad Saleem, to record his statement as a defence witness on Saturday.
The accused 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.