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Zainab Case: CJP Forms New JIT After Anchorperson’s Allegations

Lahore (January 28, 2018): The Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan has on Sunday formed a new joint investigation team (JIT) regarding Zainab’s rape and murder case after Dr. Shahid Masood’s allegations and remarked that anchorpersons should stop interrogating the case.

A three-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar began the proceedings by taking up an anchorperson’s allegations, refuted by the government, that the suspect Imran has several bank accounts and is part of an international ring involving government officials.

Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Director General (DG) Bashir Memon will head the new JIT. The apex court conducted a suo moto hearing in Lahore Registry under Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar and stopped the current JIT from work.

As the hearing went under way, the video of the anchorperson’s Thursday’s media talk outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad was played.Zainab Murder Case: SC Resumes Hearing in Lahore Registry“You said there is evidence of 37 accounts, please present it,” the chief justice asked the anchorperson.

Appearing before the bench, the anchorperson said several other people are involved in the case, adding that the post-mortem of the victim and DNA tests of suspects were not conducted the right way.

“There’s a coverup,” claimed the anchorperson, and asked the court to inquire from the police where the victim was kept before being killed.

Failing to present a satisfying reply and instead questioning the chief justice’s own practices, the anchorperson was admonished for levelling baseless allegations.

“Your statements are based on hearsay,” the chief justice remarked, adding that he saw the anchorperson’s show at midnight and called him next morning. “What you said [in your show], you have failed to prove [in court],” the chief justice observed.“The accounts you mentioned don’t exist. Give evidence and I’ll present you a certificate of honesty,” the chief justice remarked.

When the anchorperson said he will ask to leave the court if it continues doubting his claims, the chief justice retorted that he would not be allowed to go anywhere and be placed on the Exit Control List.

The court then ordered the formation of a new joint investigation team (JIT), headed by Federal Investigation Agency Director General Bashir Memon, to investigate the anchorperson’s claims.

The court had also summoned today the heads of several news organisations as well as senior journalists, who are assisting the court with regards to the anchorperson’s claims and the media’s code of conduct.

The court banned Zainab’s father and lawyer to conduct media talks. The CJP told Zainab’s father to contact the court in case of any complain instead of holding press conferences.

Dr. Shahid Masood was directed to appear before the new JIT. Justice Mian Saqib Nisar remarked that he will put the anchorperson’s name on Exit Control List (ECL).

I am not Iftikhar Chaudhry, I am Saqib Nisar, said the CJP. He further asked Dr. Shahid Masood to talk about suspect Imran’s bank accounts that he earlier claimed. Shahid Masood’s program was also played in the courtroom upon CJP’s order.

On the other hand, Dr. Shahid Masood affirmed that what he said was true. The government lawyer argued that his claims are wrong.

Moreover, during the hearing, the chief justice ordered the cessation of forming judicial commissions, observing that matters go into the backburner when such commissions are formed.

“No one will make a commission in the future as conducting an investigation is the right way to probe a case,” the chief justice observed.

The chief justice then barred the prime minister and chief ministers from forming judicial commissions and observed that no one should contact him in this regard anymore.

Punjab Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed, Punjab Advocate General Shakeelur Rehman, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali and the police team investigating the rape-murder incident are present in court.

The anchorperson had stated in his show on a private news channel Wednesday night that the suspect Imran was part of an international group and had the backing of ‘powerful’ government officials.

He had also claimed that the suspect owned at least 37 bank accounts, including some outside the country.

Following his revelations, the Supreme Court bench hearing the Zainab suo motu case had summoned the anchorperson in court.

Appearing in the apex court in Islamabad on Thursday, the anchorperson submitted details of the accounts as well as names of the two government officials, including a federal minister, involved in the ring.

During the hearing, the chief justice had remarked that there would be severe consequences if the accusations are proved false.

Following the startling allegations, the Punjab government included members of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in the joint investigation team (JIT) probing the case to investigate the anchorperson’s claims.

The anchorperson, however, failed to appear before the JIT on Friday and Saturday, but kept repeating his claims on various news channels.

The SBP rejected the anchorperson’s claims on Friday stating that the suspect had no commercial bank accounts in the country.Announcing the findings of the central bank during a news conference on Friday, Punjab government spokesman Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan said allegations regarding the primary accused by a television anchor were “fake and fabricated” and were issued without any consideration of the consequences.

Zainab was kidnapped on January 4 in Kasur and found five days later from a garbage pile. The post-mortem revealed Zainab had been raped and murdered. Later, the authorities succeeded in nabbing the suspect, Imran, said to be a serial killer involved in several similar cases in Kasur.

Related News:

Zainab Murder Case: CJP Summons JIT on Sunday

CJP Nisar Takes Another Suo Moto in Zainab Murder Case