Lawyer and rights activist Jibran Nasir and other citizens of Karachi on Tuesday filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against a Sindh High Court decision to retry Sharukh Jatoi and his accomplices in the Shahzeb Khan murder case.
In November, the SHC had set aside the death penalty awarded to the accused and ordered a retrial of the case in a sessions court. The court's decision was taken on a criminal review petition filed by Jatoi's lawyer, who argued that terrorism charges should be dropped as the prime suspect was a juvenile at the time of the offence.
"The citizens have been deeply affected and aggrieved by judgement of the SHC whereby terror charges were removed against Shahrukh Jatoi and three others in the case of killing of youth Shahzeb Khan," says the press release issued by the appellants.
According to the press release, the killing of Shahzeb Khan had “created a sense of helplessness and insecurity amongst the people of Defence/Clifton,” as a car chase and shootout took place on a public road in the densely populated area of Defence Housing Authority.
"Against the judgement of the honourable Sindh High Court … [the appellants] also prayed that operation of the said judgement should be suspended, and all four accused including Sharukh Jatoi should be arrested and taken in judicial custody."
"It is astonishing that a retrial has been ordered in the case where the trial had been concluded four and half years ago. The sole reasoning given by the SHC is that motive of killing Shahzeb Khan was personal enmity. Since then, all accused have been released on bail," the press release adds.
"It is because of inconsistent application of laws and meddling of power and influence in investigation and prosecution of criminal cases including those related to terrorism that such horrifying acts continue to take place in society where killers roam around with impunity creating a mockery of our laws and justice system continuing to terrorise citizens."
Shahrukh Jatoi and two co-accused, earlier convicted in the 2012 murder of 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan, were released from jails after their bail applications were approved by a court on December 24.
Shahzeb's family had told the court they had reached an out-of-court compromise with the accused's family.
An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had earlier awarded the death penalty to Jatoi and Siraj Ali Talpur for Shahzeb's murder in 2012 following a petty dispute. Siraj's younger brother, Sajjad Ali Talpur, and domestic helper Ghulam Murtaza Lashari had been handed life sentences.
A couple of months after the sentence was passed, however, Shahzeb's parents had issued a formal pardon for the convicts, approved by SHC.
Despite the pardon, however, the death penalty had been upheld because of the addition of terrorism charges to the case — up until the SHC dropped the charges and ordered a retrial in the case.
The retrial ordered by the high court had commenced last month.