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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Saulat Mirza — a hardened criminal

ATC reissues death warrants for Saulat Mirza, to be hanged on April 1 SHAFI BALOCH — UPDATED 2 minutes ago WHATSAPP 0 COMMENTS EMAIL PRINT Mirza was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in May 1999 for murdering the managing director of then named Karachi Electric Supply Corporation Shahid Hamid, his driver Ashraf Brohi and guard Khan Akbar in July 1997. -DawnNews screengrab Mirza was sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court in May 1999 for murdering the managing director of then named Karachi Electric Supply Corporation Shahid Hamid, his driver Ashraf Brohi and guard Khan Akbar in July 1997. -DawnNews screengrab KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Karachi on Tuesday reissued death warrants for former Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) worker Saulat Mirza setting him up for execution on April 1. Mirza was sentenced to death by an ATC in May 1999 for murdering the managing director of then named Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) chief Shahid Hamid, his driver Ashraf Brohi and guard Khan Akbar in July 1997. He was moved along with four high-profile prisoners to the Machh jail, Balochistan, in April 2014. Last week Mirza's execution was postponed for 72 hours. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar had said the target killer’s execution was stayed as “he is not well enough to be executed”. Know more: Jail administration seeks fresh death warrant of Saulat Mirza The administration of Machh central jail had sent a letter to the ATC, seeking fresh death warrants of Saulat Mirza, Superintendent Machh Jail Muhammad Ishaq Zehri had told Dawn.com. "Death warrant issued earlier has expired after postponement of Mirza's execution," he added. Mirza was scheduled to be executed on March 19 at 5.30am, but his hanging was postponed at eleventh hour following a presidential order. Also reads: Killed KESC chief on Altaf Hussain's orders, Saulat Mirza claims Also last week, Saulat Mirza, in a video statement aired on Geo News, hurled startling allegations on MQM and its top leadership, just a few hours before his execution was scheduled to take place. Mirza said he was an MQM worker and received direct orders from MQM leader Babar Ghauri to assassinate KESC chief Shahid Hamid. Speaking to ARY News, MQM Chief Altaf Hussain said, "Without any proof or evidence, Saulat Mirza's statement will not have any effect on the party." Hussain termed the allegations a conspiracy against MQM. Babar Ghauri speaking to Geo News dismissed Mirza’s statement as a “fable” and denied having given any order for a murder. "I have no vested interest in making these allegations at this hour. I just want to leave a message for those who wish to join, or are part of political organisations, to learn from my mistakes," said the death-row inmate. Previously a resident of Block J in North Nazimabad, Karachi, Saulat was his parents’ fourth child. Explore: A death cell for a triple murderer Having received his intermediate education from Pakistan Shipowners' College in Karachi, he became active in student politics and joined the All Pakistan Mohajir Students Organisation (APMSO), the students’ wing of MQM, then an acronym for Mohajir Qaumi Movement. His name first appeared on intelligence and security agencies’ radar in 1994, after the killing of two US diplomats at Karachi’s Shahrah-i-Faisal and murder of four workers of an American oil company, Union Texas, near PIDC bridge. He was believed to have been arrested from Karachi airport after his arrival from Bangkok; police confirmed his arrest at a press conference on December 11, 1998. During that press conference, in the presence of the then Karachi DIG, Ameen Qureshi, Saulat Mirza made revelations about his involvement in the murder of scores of innocent people, including several high-profile personalities. Mirza was initially detained by FIA immigration officials for traveling on a fake identity but was handed over to the then Station House Officer (SHO) of Gulbahar police station, Mohammad Aslam Khan (Chaudhry Aslam), who was also present at the airport on intelligence reports. WHATSAPP 0 COMMENTS EMAIL PRINT Email news tips and feedback to News Desk, submit blogs to Blog Desk and share photos and Videos with Special Projects Desk. KARACHI: While there is consensus that Saulat Mirza’s dramatic statement is not admissible in court unless it is recorded in the presence of a judicial magistrate, legal experts believe it can create grounds to reopen investigations into the case. According to human rights ministry’s former legal adviser Muhammad Akmal Waseem, a case always remains open to reinvestigation in criminal law. “It does not matter how old it is,” said Waseem, who has also served as an assistant advocate general. “It cannot be treated as admissible evidence in the case in which the confession is being made [which is the murder of former KESC managing director Shahid Hamid],” he pointed out. “But, it can help set a new direction for a fresh probe.” The televised confession of death row convict Saulat Ali Khan alias Saulat Mirza, has sparked a rare debate on the admissibility of a condemned prisoner’s last-minute confession about his partners in crime. Hours before walking the gallows from his death cell in Balochistan’s Mach Jail, Mirza claimed that he had murdered the Karachi Electric Supply Company’s former managing director on the orders of his Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain. “Despite its unusualness, the legal admissibility of such a statement is conditionally possible under the ambit of the Constitution,” former Supreme Court judge Wajihuddin Ahmed told The Express Tribune. “Such confessions will only be useful to the extent of other accused, which have not been punished in the same case,” he explained, adding that it will only carry significance if additional evidence corroborates the confession. “Otherwise, it’s worth nothing.” There are some procedures that need to be followed when verifying such statements. “The confession will have to be recorded before a judicial magistrate under Section 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), strictly ensuring that the statement is not being given under any influence or pressure,” said Ahmed. Status of approver The law allows a convict, such as Mirza, to become an ‘approver’ with the help of a confessional statement. An accused can make a written statement, under CrPC Section 338 (power to grant or tender pardon), to the relevant court during trial, promising to help trace the other accused involved in the crime. Legal experts said, however, that this is not an unusual practice since there are similar examples from other high-profile cases. In the murder case of Raza Kasuri against the then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the chief of the then Federal Security Force, Masood Mahmood, had become an approver against Bhutto. This was the case in which Bhutto was sentenced to death and subsequently executed in 1979. In the hijacking case of a plane carrying General (retd) Pervez Musharraf in 1999, senior civil servant Aminullah Chaudhry became an approver against the then prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. However, in both the cases, the accused became approvers before conviction. Mirza’s case is unique as it may be the first time a convicted man may become an approver. Approver’s gains By becoming an approver, the accused can win a pardon. But this is subject to an agreement with the victim’s legal heirs. “Once the legal heirs of a victim agree with an accused, who wants to become an approver to help track down other accomplices, it will make it legally binding on them to pardon him/her,” a senior lawyer, who specialises in criminal trials, told The Express Tribune. “However, such a pardon is subject to the final outcome of the trial during which he will remain in the jail,” he explained, requesting anonymity as he provides legal consultations to a law enforcement agency. “If the approver’s allegations appear to be false, he cannot win a pardon.” This legal provision can, however, easily be exploited by the accused, feared Justice (retd) Ahmed. “If this is allowed to happen, it will open the door for dramatics in our judicial system.” Presidential clemency Nevertheless, there are chances of convicts, such as Mirza, to never walk to the gallows. Under Article 45 of the Constitution, the president is empowered to either commute the death sentence of a condemned prisoner into life imprisonment or even remit any punishment completely, said a legal expert. ISLAMABAD: The condemned target killer from Karachi, Saulat Mirza, who is being hanged for killing KESC ex-chief Shahid Hamid in 1997, is known in the world of terrorism for heading a notorious target killing squad from his jail cell, which killed countless people including jail officials who dared to question Mirza’s illegal activities in prison. Mirza is the first target killer who is being hanged after almost two and a half decades of ruthless target killings in Karachi in which tens of thousands of people were killed but none was prosecuted. Saulat Mirza was arrested for killing the then MD of KESC Malik Shahid Hamid, when Mirza arrived from Bangkok at the Karachi airport in December 1998. The record shows that on May 24, 1999, Mirza an anti-terrorism court in Karachi sentenced him to death after he was found guilty of murdering Hamid, his driver, Ashraf Brohi and guard Khan Akbar on July 5, 1997 in Defence, Karachi. The Sindh High Court and the Supreme Court (SC) dismissed Mirza’s appeals against the death penalty on January 21, 2000, and September 14, 2001, respectively. The SC also rejected the review appeal on March 9, 2004. According to law, the police sources say, Mirza should have been executed after the disposal of his mercy petition. Different methods were tried to get him off the hook including threatening heirs of Shahid Hamid to grant Saulat mercy under Qisas in 2003. Then, the sources say, in 2004, the governor of Sindh even attempted to have the constitutional pardon powers of the president transferred to himself, so that he could grant mercy to Saulat. For four years, the file for Saulat’s mercy petition remained in the governor house, whereas the legal time limit for the execution of a convict is seven days from the announcement of the final appeal. Finally the file reached the interior ministry in 2008, where it took seven more years to bring Shahid Hamid’s killer to justice. The killing of Shahid Hamid by Mirza is just a tip of the iceberg as Mirza is said to have allegedly committed 58 murders after being released on parole in 2004. In the jail too, Mirza headed a death squad and issued instructions to the target killers to murder Karachi residents and the number of victims runs into thousands. No one dared to stop him from any of his activities. A jail official Amanullah Niazi was shot dead in 2006 when he tried to interfere in Mirza’s activities. Many others were openly threatened. It is worth mentioning here that MQM has always been defending Saulat Mirza till January 2015 and has been terming him innocent. But of late, MQM chief Altaf Hussain has disowned Saulat Mirza saying he has only heard his name. Such dissociation is a message for all those who crossed all limits to please their masters but were abandoned when they landed in trouble. Today's Newspaper Top story National World Business Sports Karachi Lahore Islamabad Peshawar Editorial Opinion Newspost by TaboolaSponsored LinksFROM THE WEB

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