PHC orders release of 74 convicted by military courts | Pakistan Today

PHC orders release of 74 convicted by military courts

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday ordered the release of 74 convicts sentenced by military courts for their involvement in various terrorism cases after the charges against them could not be proved.

A two-member bench of the high court comprising Chief Justice Waqar Ahmad Seth and Justice Lal Jan Khattak overturned the death and life sentences that were handed to the convicts.

Accepting the appeals of the convicts against the decisions of the military courts, the PHC overturned their sentences and ordered their release after observing that the charges against the accused had not been proven.

Nearly 50 of the convicts had been sentenced to death while the rest were serving jail terms.

Among the convicts released on Thursday were Gul Faraz and Jannat Karim.

Gul Faraz was charged with the preparation, facilitation and transportation of a suicide bomber to a funeral site in Mardan where he blew himself up, killing dozens of people, including MPA Imran Mohmand, and leaving scores injured.

He was sentenced to death by a military court, a verdict that was challenged in the high court by his nephew Zrawar Khan under Article 199 of the Constitution, under which a high court may take up a matter when there is no other adequate remedy provided by law.

While allowing the writ petition, the two-member PHC bench overturned the death sentence and ordered Faraz’s release.

He was acquitted on the grounds of absence of substantial evidence, except for a confessional statement that was recorded after a lapse of years following the convict’s arrest; the trial being unfair; violation of Articles 4, 10-A, 12 and 25 of the Constitution as well as of Section 91 of the Pakistan Army Act; and the absence of jurisdiction with the military court.

Jannat Karim was sentenced to death by a military court in a terrorism case. His conviction was challenged in the PHC by his nephew Ehsanullah under Article 199.

Karim was charged with the preparation, facilitation and transportation of suicide bombers in 2009, 2010 and then in 2011, when an attack on a police convoy in Hangu left dozens of police officials martyred.

While allowing the writ petition, the PHC bench today overturned the death sentence and ordered Karim’s release.

He was acquitted on the grounds of absence of substantial evidence, except for a confessional statement that was recorded after a lapse of years following the convict’s arrest; the trial being unfair; violation of Articles 4, 10-A, 12 and 25 of the Constitution as well as of Section 91 of the Pakistan Army Act; and the absence of jurisdiction with the military court.

Both Karim and Faraz were represented before the court by lawyer Shabir Hussain Gigyani.

On September 17, the Supreme Court (SC) had suspended the death sentences of three people who were convicted by military courts.

Suspending the death sentences, a three-member bench headed by Justice Azmat Saeed issued a notice to the Interior Ministry in this regard.

The three convicts — Tahir Ali, Habibul Rehman and Saifullah — were accused of killing two army officials in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2009.

The convicts’ appeals were earlier rejected by the Peshawar High Court.

Military courts were disbanded on January 7, 2017, after the expiration of a sunset clause included in the legal provisions under which the tribunals were established.

On April 7, 2017 President Mamnoon Hussain signed the 28th Amendment Bill 2017 and the 23rd Constitutional Amendment Bill extending military courts for another two years.

The bill, following the president’s signature, became an Act of Parliament.

According to the bill, law of evidence would be implemented during the proceedings. Suspects would have to be brought to court within 24 hours and would be entitled to have a lawyer of their choice.



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