SC directs govt to form ‘independent’ JIT to probe Arshad Sharif murder
ISLAMABAD: Hours after the government established a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe Arshad Sharif’s murder, the Supreme Court rejected it and asked a new “independent” body to be formed.
“Federal government should immediately form a new investigation team. The court wants an independent team to investigate the issue,” remarked Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial as the Supreme Court resumed the hearing of the suo motu case of Sharif’s murder.
The CJP added that the court does not want any member to have connections with any influential person.
Earlier today, the government had formed a five-member JIT to probe Sharif’s murder following the registration of the first information report on the court’s order.
The IG Islamabad constituted the JIT today to investigate Arshad Sharif’s murder and named DIG headquarters as its chairman.
At the outset of today’s hearing, Chief Justice Bandial said that the court would hear the slain journalist’s mother. However, journalist Hassan Ayub came to the rostrum and informed the court that she was not present as there were no lifts in the court.
The journalist also told the court about the police’s attitude towards the slain journalist’s family.
CJP Bandial apologised for the lift and assured the journalist that they will also look into the police’s conduct.
Following this, Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman read the fact-finding committee’s report on the murder. He added that the report has been provided to Sharif’s family. The government lawyer also told the court that the Foreign Ministry was cooperating as much as it could in this case.
At this, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan asked whether the alleged shooter was a member of the Kenyan police. While Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar questioned why the interviews of three police officers were not included in the report.
AAG Rehman told the bench that the investigative team took information from the Kenyan officials, adding that the three cops in question were introduced by them. He added that the fourth cop could not be interviewed as he was injured.
“We are trying to contact the relevant minister and cabinet secretary in Kenya. The Pakistan High Commission in Kenya is in touch with the relevant authorities,” he told the judges. He also informed the court that a case has been registered.
At this, Justice Ahsan once again asked the government lawyer who the shooters were in this incident. “They were Kenyan police officers,” the AAG said.
Meanwhile, Justice Bandial shared that report has been provided to the court at 1:00am.
The CJP remarked that the journalist was brutally murdered, and asked the government to seek the Kenyan government’s cooperation. He also added that some witnesses of the case were in Pakistan.
The chief justice then asked whether anyone from the police department was present or the people who wrote the report were in the courtroom.
The AAG informed the CJP that IG Islamabad and the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were present in the court. Meanwhile, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi observed that the Kenyan police officers who had shot at Sharif were not mentioned in the report. He also asked why a case was not registered against the Kenyan cops.
At this, AAG Rehman said that there is a need to review if a case can be registered against foreigners. He added that the report was part of the record.
“This is a very serious matter. I’m warning the government to take this matter seriously. The court is not here to only listen to you,” remarked Justice Naqvi at the AAG’s response.
The mother of the slain journalist got emotional as she appeared in court to witness the proceedings.
“We request you for justice in the case,” Sharif’s mother asked CJP Bandial. She added that her son was forced to leave Pakistan and was not even spared abroad.
“We apologise for the unfortunate incident,” the CJP said. He also assured the mother that the investigative team will work without any pressure.
“Mrs Alvi is the mother of two martyrs. Would Arshad Sharif’s mother like to say anything else,” said the CJP. He assured the mother that the FIR has been registered and her statement will be recorded.
Meanwhile, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail observed that an activist was killed last year in Canada, adding that if that had been investigated then such an incident would not have happened with a Pakistani expat.
“It is very sad that we spring into action after the incident, not before,” observed Justice Mandokhail.
The court then issued directives to the Foreign Ministry to cooperate with the JIT, adding that if cooperation is required from the United Nations or other international bodies then it must be sought.
The court then adjourned the hearing till tomorrow (Thursday).
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