Shahrukh Jatoi was one of the defendants in the 2012 Shahzeb Khan murder case that the Supreme Court of Pakistan cleared of all charges on Tuesday.
A three-person bench led by Justice Ijaz-ul-Ahsan heard the case today.
During the hearing, Latif Khosa, Jatoi\’s attorney, asserted that \”the parties have already struck an agreement.\”
He said, \”The murder incident was presented as a case of terrorism, even though the accused had no intention of inciting terrorism.\”
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On the evening of December 24, 2012, Shahzeb Khan, the 20-year-old son of former deputy superintendent of police Aurangzeb Khan, was shot and killed on Saba Avenue in Karachi.
After attending a wedding, Shahzeb and his family had just arrived home when his sister was verbally abused by a member of the accused\’s staff. The accused was challenged, and he sought an apology.
But the defendants showed no remorse and refused to accept responsibility for their employee\’s actions. When Shahzeb\’s father intervened and made an effort to appease both his son and the other side, the problem seemed to have been settled.
Soon after, the suspect hunted Shahzeb down and shot him dead in broad daylight as he was on Saba Avenue after leaving his residence in his car.
The murder generated anger across the nation, and the event was brought to the attention of the then-chief judge, Iftikhar Chaudhry, on his initiative.
Shahrukh and Siraj Talpur received the death penalty from an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in June 2013, while Sajjad Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari received a life sentence.
Shahrukh received a second prison sentence of three years for illegally possessing a firearm. The ATC also ordered the convicted to pay an Rs500,000 fine apiece.
Shahrukh Jatoi flashed victory signals as he exited the court after the judgment was delivered for the innumerable cameras focused on him. Civil society once more condemned this behavior. However, a few months after the judgment, the victim\’s father pardoned the defendant. According to reports, the pardon was forced. The convicted subsequently requested a review of the judgment from the Sindh High Court (SHC).
The SHC decided on the criminal review petition in November 2017, overturned the death penalty imposed on the two defendants, and mandated a new trial.
The defense attorney had claimed that since the primary suspect was a minor when the crime was committed, the terrorist accusations should be withdrawn.
Shahrukh\’s age has been a point of contention since the beginning of the trial when a medical assessment revealed that he was between the ages of 17 and 18 at the time of the occurrence.
A seven-member medical board later concluded that Shahrukh was at least 19 years old after the ATC rejected the report.
However, the SHC agreed with the defense\’s request to have certain portions of the anti-terror law removed.
Released on bail
The Sessions Court granted bail to all of the accused in December 2017. The action infuriated the public once more, and several activists petitioned the supreme court to overturn the SHC\’s decision.
Jibran Nasir, Jamshed Raza Mahmood, Afiya Shehrbano Zia, Naeem Sadiq, Nazim Fida Hussain Haji, Zulfiqar Shah, Aquila Ismail, Fahim Zaman Khan, and Naziha Syed Ali were among the campaigners who challenged the SHC order in a criminal petition to the Supreme Court.
Civil society\’s petitions
The petition claimed that citizens of the city where Shahzeb was killed had filed a criminal petition for leave to appeal, challenging the SHC order for not applying ATA provisions and setting aside the conviction recorded by the trial court. The petition was filed through renowned attorney Faisal Siddiqui.
According to the petition, the horrific murder episode had made people feel uneasy and afraid. Even though they had no personal acquaintance with the dead, the members of the civic society said that the terror and panic experienced by the locals provided sufficient justification for them to launch the complaint.
They said that the murder had directly terrified and intimidated them.
The SC overturned the 2017 SHC ruling and ordered a new trial in February 2018 after converting the petitions from the civil society into a suo motu notice.
The supreme court also reinstated terrorist charges that had been brought against the defendants, Shahrukh, Siraj, and Sajjad, but was dropped by the SHC. The SC bench found that the accused\’s bails from the sessions court were unlawful.
The defendants were brought into a jail in Islamabad and turned over to the Sindh Police shortly after the verdict was rendered. Additionally, their names were added to the Exit Control List.
The SHC examined arguments for and against the convictions over a year, and in 2019 it mitigated the death penalty given to Shahrukh Jatoi and Siraj Talpur, the two main defendants in the Shahzeb Khan murder case, into life in prison.
The top court also affirmed the life sentences given to Sajjad and Ghulam, two additional defendants. Upon reviewing petitions the accused submitted challenging their conviction, Justices Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Nazar Akbar announced their judgment.
The defendants had appealed the life sentence then, and they were found not guilty on Tuesday.