Rehmat Shah sentenced to death
LAHORE- A special court of an Additional Sessions Judge with Kazim Raza Shamsi in the chair awarded death sentence to Rehmat Shah Afridi, Chief Editor of a Peshawar-based English daily The Frontier Post and an Urdu daily Maidan in two different cases of narcotics smuggling.
He was also fined Rs one million in each case. The court also sentenced the two co-accused, Abdul Maalik and Missal Khan in one of the two cases, to life imprisonment each and a fine of Rs 2,50,000 to them each.
As per the prosecution, the Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) on a tip had impounded Rehmat Shah’s Mercedes car outside a five-star hotel on The Mall in Lahore on April 12, 1999 and recovered 20 kilogram charas from him. The convict was arrested and interrogated by ANF and on his information a raid was conducted on a truck in Shah Kot, District Sheikhupura, which resulted in recovery of 651 kg charas. The driver and cleaner of the truck were taken into custody. Two cases of narcotics possession and trafficking were registered against Afridi the same day while truck driver Missal Khan and cleaner Abdul Maalik were booked in one case. Two separate challans were later submitted in the court of trial.
At early stages of the trial, prominent criminal law lawyers from Lahore appeared in the case as defence counsel but later they refused to follow the case. A lawyer from Sargodha Ehsan Qadir Shah though appeared in the case as defence counsel for Afridi. The main defence, was, however, taken on point of malafide of the Nawaz Sharif government,” since the newspapers of the convict had published news items against him.” During the proceedings video films showing the narcotics and the contacts of the convict were shown before the court as evidence against him.
As the court was to pronounce its judgment on Wednesday the court premises were cordoned off by the police and security agencies and the accused were brought to the court amid tight security.
The accused were produced in the courtroom at around 1:00 pm and after the judgment, which took only three minutes, the accused were taken away from the court hurriedly.
They were not allowed to see anyone, not even mediamen who were present at the premises, for the news in a large number. Journalists and lawyers were not allowed to enter the courtroom at the time of the court decision.
Later while talking to newsmen, Special Public Prosecutor Chaudhry Sulaiman said, “it was a case of its own kind in the history of the country in which the man of such a status and owner of two national dailies had been awarded death sentence.”
Source: The Nation