Shahrukh Jatoi’s acquittal reopens old wounds

By Cutacut Editorial Team

KARACHI: Pakistanis were left in a state of shock when towards the end of 2012, news began to circulate of the murder of Shahzeb Khan. What began in an altercation with his neighbor’s house help, who had been harassing his sister, ended in cold blooded murder. But the case did not end there, it became a long drawn debacle of the gross use of feudal influence and ended up in a shocking acquittal despite the Anti Terrorism Court awarding a death penalty to those involved.

It was the night of the 24th of December when Shahzeb Khan, the son of a police officer, had dropped his sister off after their sister’s wedding events. As she was entering her house, the neighbor’s house help began to harass her. When Khan intervened, things got messy and Siraj Talpur and Shahrukh Jatoi intervened and fired shots into the air as a threat to the family. Things eventually cleared up, at least that’s what the victim’s family believed. Unfortunately, Shahrukh Jatoi wasn’t done and he ended up following Shahzeb Khan’s car, shooting him and killing him.

The police investigation and court case that followed was equally messy. From altered FIRs to lackluster police investigation to Shahrukh Jatoi fleeing the country, citizens could not help but wonder if the accused were going to get away with their crime because of their feudal backgrounds.

However, faith in the system was restored when the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had awarded the death penalty to Jatoi and his accomplice Siraj Ali Talpur while Talpur’s younger brother, Sajjad Ali Talpur, and domestic helper Ghulam Murtaza Lashari had been handed life sentences. The sentence was upheld despite a formal pardon by Shahzeb Khan’s parents. The death penalty had been upheld because of the terrorism charges. However, it all changed when the Sindh High Court dropped the charged and ordered a retrial.

During the hearing on October 18, 2022, the accused’s lawyer, Latif Khosa, stressed on the formal pardon and claimed that his clients had no intention to spread terror. A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, and comprising Justice Munib Akhtar and Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi ended up acquitting the accused.

Needless to say, the acquittal caused wide spread shock and overall loss in belief in the institutions that are meant to uphold justice.

The court is yet to release a detailed version of their judgement.

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