Karachi: 3 LJ activists acquitted
Karachi: The Sindh High Court on Monday set aside the death sentences of three activists of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in the Imambargah killing case as the prosecution failed to produce incriminating evidence against the defendants.
Abdul Wahab Afghani, Shahnawaz alias Shani and Mohammad Shaukat had been sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) for killing nine people and injuring eight others at the Imambargah Al-Muntazir Al-Mehdi in the Al–Falah area of Karachi on February 22, 2003.
The court had also sentenced them to an aggregate of 30 years in prison and imposed fines for injuring worshipers. According to the prosecution, the appellants had fired with automatic weapons on the worshippers when the latter were going to the Imambargah for Maghrib prayers.
The appellants counsel contended that the prosecution failed to prove charges against the appellants as there were glaring contradictions in the statements of the prosecution witnesses, including eyewitnesses, in the case.
They questioned the identification parade of the appellants and submitted that it was held against the principles laid down by the superior courts.
They said that there was no independent evidence regarding the recovery of a weapon used in the crime and prayed to the court to set the conviction aside.
The special prosecutor, however, opposed the appeal. A division bench of the SHC, headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed, after perusal of the evidence and hearing the arguments of the state and the appellants’ counsel, observed that the prosecution relied on the identification parade of the appellants through eyewitnesses, but such identification tests were highly doubtful as the same were not conducted by the magistrates in accordance with the law and principles laid down by the superior courts.
The court observed that the benefit of the slightest doubt had to be extended in favour of the accused; besides, the identification test, the prosecution had no incriminating evidence against the appellants, and the testimonies of the witnesses were doubtful and could not be relied on.
The court, allowing the appeals, set aside the convictions awarded to the appellants by the ATC and acquitted them of charges, ordering their release if not involved in other cases.