Parents of suspect in Noor murder seek reprieve from indictment

ISLAMABAD: The parents of the prime suspect in the murder of the daughter of a former diplomat Wednesday asked the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to annul a sessions court’s order to indict suspects in the case on October 14.

Noor Mukadam, 27, was found murdered at the residence of one Zahir Zakir in Sector F-7/4 of Islamabad in July. Zakir, widely believed to be the killer, was arrested the same day for his purported involvement in the gruesome incident.

A first information report registered on the complaint of Ambassador Shaukat Ali Mukadam, Mukadam’s father, nominated Zakir under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Zakir’s parents — Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Adamjee — domestic staff and six workers of Therapy Works — an Islamabad-based organisation providing mental health services that employed Zakir and Adamjee — were arrested days later on charges of abetting the murder.

A total of 12 people have been facing the probe on multiple charges.

Last week, a district and sessions court in Islamabad fixed October 14 for the indictment of suspects.

The court had originally fixed October 6 for the purpose but extended the date after the parents approached a district and sessions court for bail — a request which was turned down.

Later, they approached the Islamabad High Court for bail which also rejected their petition and ordered authorities to keep them under detention until the completion of the trial.

They filed a fresh petition with the Supreme Court on Wednesday, requesting it to approve their bail application and set aside the September 29 order of the IHC.

In the petition filed Wednesday, the parents said they had submitted a request before an additional sessions judge on October 6, seeking copies of the evidence, adding that Adamjee had also filed an additional petition urging the court to allow four-week time for her counsel to prepare for the defence.

“But both the pleas were dismissed by the additional sessions judge in complete disregard of their constitutional and legal right to a fair trial and due process,” the petition read.

They urged the IHC to set aside the October 7 orders of the sessions court — that announced the indictment date — and order provision of copies of evidence to them.

They also requested the IHC to direct the court to grant them adequate time to prepare for their defence.

This killing though, which touched a segment of society that is often thought to be immune to that systemic injustice, has sparked a public outcry, unlike any other recent case.

“The status of the families involved, especially the family of Zahir Jaffer, and of course Noor’s father being a former ambassador, and this happening within the elite circles of Islamabad […] all of that combined definitely has brought more attention to this case,” commented Nida Kirmani, Associate Professor of Sociology at the Lahore University of Management Sciences, said at the time.

Mukadam’s murder has become the most keenly reported femicide in recent history. Social media erupted with furious disgust, and there have been protests and vigils in major cities, as well as among the Pakistan diaspora as far away as Canada and the United States.

Facing public anger, the Jaffer family took out full-page advertisements in newspapers distancing themselves from the murder and calling for justice.

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