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Death for 35 militants convicted by military courts upheld

By Waseem Ahmad Shah 2017-05-26
PESHAWAR: While upholding the capital punishment handed down to 35 militants by the military courts, a Peshawar High Court bench on Thursday set aside the death sentence of two of the convicted militants and sent their cases to the respective trialcourtsfor the reconsideration of their penalty.

Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ikramullah Khan had reserved judgments during the last three months in 39 petitions challenging convictions of as many militants by the military courts.

The bench pronounced judgments in all these cases, whose proceedings were held in camera.

A total of 37 petitions were filed against sentences of death awarded to militants by the military courts, whereas rests of the two petitions pertained to life imprisonment given to two militants.

While upholding the conviction of two, including Mohammad Imran and Azizur Rehman, the bench considered it appropriate toset aside their deathsentences and remand their cases to military courts over the issue of quantum of sentence. The 37 other petitions were dismissed by the bench.

As for the case of Mohammad Imran, he was tried on four counts and awarded death sentence on June 28, 2015, which was made public by the Inter-Services Public Relations on Jan 1, 2016. Belonging to Mohmand Agency, he was accused of designing a vehicle for terrorist acts by fixing an improvised explosive device in it; attacking a check post on Oct 29, 2008, in Mohmand Agency by firing with sub-machine gun, possession of a sub-machine gun and possession of two hand grenades.

In light of different judgments of the Supreme court, the bench overruled several arguments of the petitioner`s counsel but agreed to the point that none of the offences wherein the petitioner was charged carried the sentence of death.

`The awarded of conviction by the military court to Mohammad Imran does not warrant interference by this Constitutional Court, as it is not a case of no or insufficient evidence,` it ruled.

The bench however observed that the sentence awarded to him warrants interference by this court, as the military court lacked legal jurisdiction to award death penalty for the charges like theones framed against him.

`The sentence of death awarded to Mohammad Imran alias Mansoor son of Abdul Manan and the confirmation thereof passed by the Chief of Army Staff is set aside and the case is remanded back to the military court either to revisit the quantum of punishment awarded or to alter the charge framed against Mohammad Imran and thereafter proceed against him under the law.

Similarly, in the case of Azizur Rehman, stated to be a member of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Swat, he was tried on three counts and awarded death sentence on Mar 30, 2016, which was made public on July 14, 2016, by the ISPR.

The charges against him were the use of explosives to destroy three CD shops and a barber`s shop in Matta on the night between Aug 29 and 30,2007;killingofa constable Mohammad Razzaq on Jan 15, 2009, near Matta Bazaar, and possessing of explosives at his residence in Shakardara area of Matta (Swat) on Nov 5, 2010.

The petitioner`s counsel had produced an affidavit of Mohammad Daud, son of the deceased constable Mohammad Razag, saying the legalheirs of the deceased did not want to prosecute the petitioner.

While upholding conviction of petitioner Azizur Rehman, the bench ruled that the sentence awarded to him warrants interference by thiscourt in view of the changed circumstances of the case owing to the affidavit filed by Mohammad Daud.

The bench set aside the sentence of death awarded to the petitioner and its confirmation by the Chief of Army Staff and remanded the case bacl( to the military court to consider the said affidavit and thereafter proceed in determining the quantum of punishment to be awarded to Azizur Rehman.

The convicts, whose petitions were dismissed, were mostly convicted for attacking and killing members of law-enforcement agencies and security forces and damaging public properties. One of the convicts, Syed Qasim Shah, was sentenced to death for attacking the offices of a western aid agency, World Vision, and killing six of its employees in Mansehra in Mar 2010.

Another convict in a high-profile case is Abdul Rehman, who was sentenced for involvement in the killing of army officials, including Captain Najam, Captain Junaid Khan, Naik Shahid Rasool and Naik Shakeel Ahmad.

In several of these petitions, the lawyers had adopted the plea that their clients were denied the right to fair trial under Article 10-A of the Constitution.

The bench however overruled their contention in light of the judgments of the Supreme Court.