The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Wednesday admitted the appeal for hearing of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London (MQM-L) activist SM Kamran, who was sentenced to death in absentia in the Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar murder case, against his conviction. The court also issued a notice to the prosecutor general.
MQM activists Mohammad Shahrukh (alias Maani), Faisal Mehmood (alias Nafsiyati), Syed Tahir Naveed Shah (alias Polka) and Syed Mohammad Ali Rizvi were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Shikarpur anti-terrorism court (ATC) after finding them guilty of murdering Babar in January 2011.
The court also handed down death sentences to the then absconding accused Faisal Mehmood (alias Mota) and SM Kamran (alias Zeeshan) in absentia on March 1, 2014. Co-accused Shakeel (alias Malik) was acquitted for lack of evidence. The appeals of the convicts were pending before the SHC’s Larkana Circuit bench.
The ATC had observed in its judgment that Faisal Mota was the mastermind of the murder while Kamran was the executor of the crime. The court had also observed that all the accused collectively committed the offence in pursuance of a common object under predetermined planning.
Babar was shot dead on January 13, 2011 near the Super Market area of Liaquatabad Town. According to the prosecution, the accused were arrested from Gulshan-e-Iqbal after a shoot-out, and during interrogation they had admitted their involvement in the murder due to his media reports against the MQM.
Kamran, who was arrested by law enforcers in Gulshan-e-Maymar this June 15, has challenged his conviction in absentia. The appellant’s counsel Amir Mansoob Qureshi said the conviction was not warranted under the law, as sections 21-L and 19(12) of the anti-terrorism law were not complied with in the case.
Qureshi said that the right to a fair trial was not provided to the appellant, and the trial court had erred in awarding capital punishment to him in absentia without giving him the opportunity to defend the charges levelled against him.
He said that no direct evidence had been produced against the appellant except the confession of a co-appellant, which could not be relied upon or sustained to convict his client.
He also said that the trial court had not appreciated the evidence properly, which resulted in an injustice, and requested that the court set aside the conviction to the extent of the appellant and remand back the case for trial de novo (new trial) so that his client could defend the charges.
The SHC’s division bench headed by Justice Abdul Maalik Gaddi admitted the appeal for hearing and issued a notice to the prosecutor general and the complainant. The court also directed the office to fix the appeal with connected appeals being heard by the SHC Larkana Circuit. Co-appellant Faisal Mota, who was also convicted in absentia by the ATC, was arrested by the Rangers during a raid at the MQM’s headquarters Nine Zero on March 11, 2015.
Newspaper: The News