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SHC Overturns Death Sentence in Wali Babar Murder Case

Karachi (August 16, 2017): The Sindh High Court’s Larkana bench on Wednesday overturned the death sentence awarded to convict Faisal Mehmood alias ‘Mota’ in the murder case of Journalist Wali Khan Babar.

Overturning Faisal’s death sentence during a hearing today, the Sindh High Court directed that the case to be referred to a lower court, where it will be heard afresh.

The case will now be heard afresh in an anti-terrorism court in Kandhkot, which, on March 1, 2014, had awarded death sentence to two suspects including Faisal in absentia, and life imprisonment to four accused.The SHC was hearing an appeal filed by Faisal Mota, who was awarded a death sentence in absentia, by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Kandhkot in March 2014 for masterminding the 2011 murder of television journalist Wali Babar in Karachi.

Mota, said to be a worker of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), was later arrested and detained in March 2015 in Karachi after Rangers conducted a raid at the MQM headquarters.

Mota’s counsel Advocate Aamir Masoob Qureshi in April 2015 had submitted in SHC that Mota’s death sentence should be declared illegal since it was awarded in absentia. According to Articles 21-L and 31-A of the Anti Terrorism Act 1997, a death sentence cannot be awarded in absentia, Qureshi had argued.

The advocate had also said that when a punishment is awarded in absentia, the convict must refer to the trial court according to Article 19(12). However, his client was unable to refer to the ATC in Kandhkot because the records of the case were at the SHC.He had, therefore, requested the court to dismiss Mota’s death penalty and send the case for a retrial.

The ATC in Kandhkot will now hear the case from scratch again.

Babar was gunned down in the Liaquatabad area of Karachi on January 13, 2011 when he was returning home from office.

Faisal was arrested during a raid by the security forces at Nine-Zero, Karachi in 2015.

Two policemen, a police officer’s brother and an informer linked to the investigation into Babar’s murder had been methodically targeted after investigation in the case began.Rajab Ali Bengali, a police informer, is stated to be the first victim, whose body was found in a sack on Jan 29, 2011, in Gulshan-i-Iqbal.

The second victim was Constable Asif Rafiq who was killed in a drive-by shooting by two men on a motorcycle on Jan 31, 2011. He had identified the vehicle the attackers had used. He was at the spot at the time of the murder and had noted down its registration number.

Head Constable Arshad Kundi is believed to be the third victim linked to the investigation. He was killed in a drive-by-shooting on March 19, 2011, in Sohrab Goth.

On April 7, 2011, a brother of the SHO of Super Market police station, Shafiq Tanoli, was shot dead. Tanoli told reporters that his brother, Naveed Khan, had been killed to pressurise him.