KARACHI In what was taken to be a triumph of justice across the country, an anti-terrorism court on Friday sentenced Rangers personnel Shahid Zafar to death and six others to life imprisonment for killing in cold blood an unarmed youth, Sarfraz Shah, in Karachi.
The court also imposed Rs200,000 fine on Shahid Zafar and Rs100,00 million on the six co-accused that will be paid to the heirs of the deceased in compensation.
The family of deceased Sarfraz Shah expressed satisfaction over the court verdict and said they are thankful to the court, the media and the society at large for their unflinching support for the cause of justice. The mother of the 22-year-old youth however said she will be happy the day the main culprit is hanged.
Sarfraz Shah was shot at twice and seriously wounded on June 8 in a public park in broad day light. In an ultimate display of cruelty, the killers watched him bleed to death and paid no heed to the wails of the youth who kept requesting them to carry him to hospital. The unbelievable episode was captured on camera and aired on all the TV channels in the country, sending the whole nation into deep shock and awe.
Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC)-1 Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso, who was conducting the trial, convicted all seven accused including six Rangers personnel after recording final arguments from both the sides and considering the testimonies by the prosecution witnesses. The judge read out the verdict finding the main accused Shahid Zafar guilty of pulling the trigger and sentenced him to death. The remaining six accused including, Sub-Inspector Bahaur Rehman, Lance Naik Liaquat Ali, Constables Mohammad Tariq, Manthar Ali, Afzal Khan and a civilian, Afsar Khan, were sentenced to life imprisonment.
The court also imposed fine of Rs200,000 on Shahid Zafar and Rs100,00 million on the six co-accused which will be paid to the heirs of the deceased as compensation. In case of non-payment of fine the convict would have to undergo an additional six-month imprisonment. The judgment observed that the prosecution successfully proved that the accused had shot dead the deceased with the help of his associates.
The special public prosecutor said that the prosecution had produced enough evidence to prove the involvement of the accused in the case. The defence counsels, in their arguments, had maintained that their clients were innocent and were implicated in the case. Besides, they had pleaded for the acquittal of his clients.
A private contractor, Afsar Khan, had handed over Sarfraz Shah to the Rangers personnel, accusing him of committing theft and looting. The Rangers personnel and the private contractor were arrested as the murder video took all by storm. Police registered a case under the anti-terrorism law as well as the Pakistan Penal Code after the Supreme Court took suo moto notice of the brutal murder. The case was registered in Boat Basin Police Station under sections 302, 34, and 36 of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, on complaint of the victims brother Salik Shah, a reporter for a local news TV channel.
The prosecution had named 47 witnesses, including eyewitnesses, in the charge sheet in addition to a list of 14 articles, including the crime weapon, to prove the guilt of the accused.
After the announcement of the judgment, the family members of the deceased expressed their satisfaction over the courts verdict. The brother of Sarfaraz Shah said he was satisfied with the decision of the court and thanked the Chief Justice of Pakistan for taking notice of the case. Sarfaraz Shahs father, Amin Shah, said the decision was on merit and it should be upheld by the superior courts and implemented. He said that his entire family spent the last two months in utter pain. His mother said she was contented at the decision but complete justice would be served when the death sentence would be carried out. I will be happy the day accused Shahid Zafar is executed, she said. She also said that she wished death penalty for all the culprits involved.