SHC orders retrial in Shahzeb Khan Murder case

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Sindh High Court on Tuesday suspended death sentence being handed down to landlord, Shahrukh Jatoi, in murder of a youth, Shahzeb Khan, in Karachi five years ago.

Shahrukh Jatoi and other accomplices in the coldblooded murder had filed appeal in the Sindh High Court. Lawyer of the accused and PPP leader Farooq H Naik argued that the anti-terrorism court had not fulfilled legal requirements before handing down its judgment in the case. He said that when Shahrukh was sentenced to death he was below the age of 18.

On these grounds, Naek asked the court to order a retrial of the case in a regular court.

The Sindh prosecutor general, countering the arguments, pointed out that the SHC had still not approved the pardon issued by Shahzeb’s parents. Since a final decision had not been made, he argued, the case could not be restarted.

At this, Justice Salahuddin, who was presiding over the proceedings, expressed surprise, saying that as the case was tried in an ATC and included clauses of terrorism, granting a pardon should not have been possible in the first place.

The judge, however, said the case could be sent for a retrial in a session court. Subsequently, he decided on a fresh trial of the case in a session court, disposing of the punishments previously handed to the four accused.

An Anti Terrorist Court (ATC) in Karachi on June 7, 2013 awarded death penalty to Shahrukh Jatoi, the prime accused in the Shahzeb Khan Murder case, and his accomplice Siraj Talpur while the other two accused, Sajjad Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari, were given life imprisonment.

The judgment was viewed a rare one in which a powerful elite, who even enjoyed the immunity from chains before the eyes of cameras, has been sentenced with capital punishment.

The family of the Shahzeb Khan, which according to his father Aurangzeb Khan, felt dejected by the media, which on one hand helped them highlight the issue while on other hand spread the news that family had been in bargaining with the feudal lords under pressure.

ATC judge Ghulam Mustafa Memon issued the 95 pages Judgment in the case which has been going on almost daily basis at the anti-terrorism courts and remained in limelight for nearly three months.

The other two suspects, Sajjad Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari, were awarded life imprisonment besides slapping fine. The court has penalized all four accused with Rs 500,000 fine while Sajjad Talpur and Murtaza Lashari will serve an additional one-year imprisonment for teasing sister of the deceased.

The court also ordered to pay half of the fine to the family of Shahzeb Khan. The court declared three accused as absconders as they are still at large. After the verdict the Jatoi’s lawyer showed his dissatisfaction with the verdict and announced that his client will file review appeal against the decision of ATC with Sindh High Court shortly. The ATC has given them seven days time to file review request.

Shahzeb Khan, the son of mid-level police official Aurangzeb Khan, was gunned down on December 25, last year allegedly by Shahrukh Jatoi, who was accompanied by his friends, Siraj and Sajjad Talpur.

The 20 years old medical student had a fight with the son of power feudal of Sindh Sikandar Jatoi and his friend after Talpur’s servant Ghulam Murtaza harassed the sister of Shahzeb Khan. Shahzeb Khan’s father is the cousin of former PPP and now MQM lawmaker Nabil Gabol, who reported to media that they were facing hardships in lodging FIR against the son of powerful elite.

The issue sprung at the social media with TV channels picking the news in follow up for their headlines which made the Supreme Court of Pakistan to take suo moto notice of the cool blooded murder. While disposing off the case, the apex court had directed ATC to decide the case within seven days but proceedings of the case spread over 2 months and 20 days due to the complex nature of case.

In the meantime, the prime suspect filed a petition on June 6 in the Sindh High Court pleading for transferring the case to normal session court but the SHC turned down the plea. At least two tests including those of bones were made while boards were formed to ascertain the age of Shahrukh Jatoi, the prime suspect but he was declared adult at the time when crime was committed.

The ATC upheld its decision of declaring Jatoi an adult after reviewing the ossification report and other documentary evidence.

Earlier, the key suspect in the case had fled to UAE but was brought back when the Supreme Court took notice of the shooting. Talking to media persons at his residence soon after the court issued judgment on Friday Aurangzeb Khan, the father of Shahzeb Khan, said that justice had been served.

He thanked media and people for their support. “The children of the rich are not bad but it is their upbringing which is at fault”, he said while wearing the mix of sad and happy emotions at his face.

The mother of Shahzeb was also happy with the outcome of the case and said the killers should be punished for the crime which took the precious life of their loved one.