Shahbaz acquittal in Sabzazar case: LHC seeks trial court record

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Shahbaz acquittal in Sabzazar case: LHC seeks trial court record

LAHORE: A Lahore High Court division bench on Thursday sought complete record of trial court on an appeal challenging acquittal of former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif in Sabzazar fake police encounter case.

Khurshid Khanum, mother of two brothers Waseem and Rauf, who were killed in the encounter, had filed the appeal in 2009 after a delay of one year. However, a division bench that took up the appeal at that time had condoned the delay after the appellant gave tangible reasons.

The woman, through her counsel Aftab Ahmad Bajwa, pleaded that another complainant in murder case of Shakeel, Salahuddin and Ashraf had forgiven Shahbaz Sharif that led to his acquittal in the case.

She said her husband had not withdrawn the charges. However, she said her husband later passed away and she also did not give up pursuing the case.

The appellant said the trial court could not acquit the former chief minister of the charges relying on the statement of one party involved in the case. She asked the court to set aside the former chief minister’s acquittal order and issue directions to hold the trial afresh.

During the Thursday’s hearing, the bench comprising Justice Qazi Muhammad Amin and Justice Chaudhry Mushtaq Ahmad observed that the record of the trial court had not been furnished by the prosecution side despite an order issued years ago. The bench directed the appellant’s counsel to submit the trial court record by Jan 27, 2019.

Five persons were killed during a police encounter on April 4, 1998 in the jurisdiction of Sabzazar police station and the FIR was registered against 12 persons, including Shahbaz Sharif, on March 29, 2001.

On March 1, 2008, an anti-terrorism court had acquitted then chief minister Shahbaz Sharif of Sabzazar police encounter case.

A complainant, Saeeduddin and legal heirs of the other victims had stated before the court that they would have no objection to Shahbaz’s acquittal if he claimed innocence on oath.

However, Shahbaz’s counsel had turned down the offer and told the court that he would contest the case to have it decided on merits. Finally, the trial court had acquitted Shahbaz Sharif of the charges on merits.

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