KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court on Thursday handed down death sentence to three men and life term to as many others said to be associated with banned militant outfits in the Allama Hasan Turabi murder case.
Mohammad Amin alias Khalid Shaheen, Sultan Mahmood alias Saifullah, Mohammad Rehman, Mohammad Akbar Khan, Ashfaq Qureshi and Raheemullah alias Ali Hasan were found guilty of planting a remote-controlled explosive device to kill Allama Turabi and also masterminding a suicide attack on the religious leader, killing him with his nephew.
Amin, Sultan and Rehman were awarded death under Section 7(a) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), 1997 read with Section 120-B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The court ruled that they shall be hanged by neck till death and each accused shall pay a fine of Rs100,000, and in case of default they shall undergo an additional three-year term. The other accused were given life term and a fine of Rs100,000 each in the same case.
Judge Anand Ram Hotwani of the ATC-III, who conducted the trial and pronounced the verdict inside the central prison, also sentenced all the six men to life in prison and a fine of Rs50,000 each and in case of non-payment the convicts would have to undergo an additional one year in prison and another 10 years term and a fine of Rs25,000 each for making an attempt on the life of the religious leader and causing him grievous injuries and damage to property, respectively.
The court awarded another life term to Amin, Sultan and Rehman under Section 7(ff) of the ATA, 1997 for committing the act of terrorism.
However, the judge ruled that all the punishments of imprisonment would run concurrently and the benefit of Section 382-B (period of detention to be considered while awarding sentence of imprisonment) of the criminal procedure code (CrPC) was awarded to convict Akbar Khan.
In its verdict, the court observed that the prosecution examined 13 witnesses, who had seen all the accused persons at both crime-scenes. Seven witnesses also rightly picked up most of the accused and assigned their roles in the commissioning of offences during identification parades held by magistrates.
It further stated that the confessional statements recorded by a judicial magistrate under Section 164 of the CrPC were true and made voluntarily by accused Amin, Sultan and Rehman and whatever they had stated could not be manipulated by the police.
The prosecution claimed that sufficient explosive material was seized from the house of Amin. All the three accused, Amin, Sultan and Rehman, also admitted the same in their confessions, the verdict added.
“The defence though argued that the entry of police in the house of accused Amin was illegal as it was without search warrant, but in my opinion such entry can not be termed as illegal because if police would have waited for getting the search warrant the accused would have been away moreover when the police had the information about availability of terrorists in some house they can raid the house because it is in the larger interest of not only the persons of locality but in interest of one country where such terrorists activities are increasing day by day,” the court observed.
Ruling out the contention of a defence counsel that the motorcycle recovered from Ashfaq and Akbar was not used in the crime as its registration number was different from the one cited by the prosecution in its documents, the court observed that the difference of only one digit was negligible.
The judgment concluded that all accused were found guilty for the offences with which they were charged, but the court took a lenient view while awarding punishment to Akbar, Ashfaq and Rahimullah, because they were arrested on the basis of confessional statements of others. Besides, the identification parade of Rahimullah was held after a passage of more than two years.
According to the prosecution, Sindh chief of the Tehrik-i-Islami and provincial vice-president of the of Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal Allama Hasan Turabi and his young nephew, Ali Imran Turabi, were killed when a suicide bomber posing as a beggar blew himself up outside the religious leader’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal residence on July 14, 2006 when they were coming returning home after attending an anti-Israel demonstration organised by the MMA. The alleged suicide bomber was later identified as Abdul Karim Bengali. Three policemen and a woman were wounded in the blast.
A case (FIR 332/2006) was registered under Sections 302, 324, 427, 109/34 of the PPC and Sections 3 and 5 of the Explosive Substance Act read with Section 7 of the ATA at the Sachal police station.
Another case (85/2006) was registered against the same set of accused under Sections 324, 427, 109, 120-B and 34 of the PPC and Sections 3 and 5 of the Explosive Substance Act read with Section 7 of the ATA for planting a remote-controlled bomb in a cart on Abul Hasan Ispahani Road near the residence of Allama Hasan Turabi in an attempt to kill him on April 6, 2006. The MMA leader had escaped unhurt in the attempt.