KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Wednesday upheld the death sentence awarded to a man by the trial court and set aside the life sentence of two others in the case pertaining to the murder of a factory manager over non-payment of protection money.
An anti-terrorism court had handed down a death sentence to Abdul Rehman in November last year for killing Saleemuddin in January 2017 in a factory in Gabol Town when he refused to pay protection money.
The trial court had also awarded life imprisonment to co-accused Anwar, alias Anwar Baloch, and Ahmed Hasan for abetting and assisting the main convict. Additionally, the ATC had handed down 14 years term to Hasan for carrying an unlicensed weapon.
The convicts filed appeals against the trial court order before the SHC and after hearing both sides and examining the record and proceedings, the two-judge bench headed by Justice K.K. Agha dismissed the appeal of Rehman and upheld the death penalty but overturned the life terms of other two appellants. However, the court maintained the 14-year imprisonment of Hasan in the illicit weapon case.
The bench in its order observed that there was a confessional statement of Abdul Rehman and the footage of the closed-circuit television camera installed at the industrial unit in which the appellant was firing upon the deceased while the mother of Abdul Rehman also identified him in the CCTV footage.
It further said that the motive behind the killing was also established as the deceased had refused to pay protection money and the offense was intended to send a signal to the business community that if protection money was not paid they would meet the same fate.
The bench ruled that the case stood proved against Abdul Rehman beyond a shadow of a doubt and upheld the capital punishment on the ground that a deterrent sentence was appropriate in order to send a loud and clear message to all persons involved in such heinous crimes.
However, it observed that there was no incriminating evidence against the other two appellants to connect them with the murder case beyond a shadow of a doubt since Rehman named Anwar in his confessional statement as his accomplice, but the prosecution could not provide any corroborating evidence.
It added that the only evidence against Hasan was the FSL [Forensic Science Laboratory] report which confirmed that the weapon recovered from him was used in the crime, but the bullet casings found at the crime scene were sent for analysis after a delay of around seven months.
Therefore, the bench said that Hasan was being acquitted in the main case by extending him the benefit of the doubt, but maintained his conviction for the offense of carrying an unlicensed weapon.
According to the prosecution, Abdul Rehman had gunned down Saleemuddin on Jan 7 in a factory in Gabol Town when he refused to pay protection money. He was arrested on Jan 26 after his mother identified him as the shooter in CCTV footage, which caught him killing the victim. Later, the other accused were also apprehended.