Verdict to be out on 8th if defence lawyer fails to appear
Karachi: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Kandhkot issued a notice on Saturday to the defence counsel in the murder trial of Geo News reporter Wali Khan Babar, telling him to appear on January 8 or a decision would be announced against the defendants, Geo News reported.
Defence counsel Suleman Mujahid Baloch, who is a member of the National Assembly and belongs to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), has failed to show up at the proceedings repeatedly.
Babar had been going home in his car from office when he was shot dead in the Liaquatabad area in January 2011.
The trial was transferred to the Kandhkot ATC from Karachi ATC-III last year on the order of the Sindh High Court over security concerns.
The decision was taken after six witnesses to the high-profile murder were shot dead one after another in Karachi.
Senior lawyer Naimat Ali Randhawa was also killed in an attack after he agreed to represent the plaintiff in the case.
In November, armed men attacked the house of the public prosecutor, Abdul Maroof, in the Defence area. He said he had been receiving threats and the CID police had also warned him of the danger.
Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah is said to have ordered the appointment of a lawyer at state expense to represent the accused.
According to Sub-Section 8 of Section 19 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, if the counsel for the accused facing murder charges or other charges for which capital punishment could be awarded remains absent for consecutive two hearings, the court can issue an order to the government to appoint a counsel at state expense.
Baloch had earlier remained absent for three hearings conducted by the Kandhkot Anti-Terrorism Court inside the Shikarpur jail, and the court had directed the government to appoint a defence counsel so that the trial could be conducted.
On October 8, 2013, ATC-III Judge Saleem Raza Baloch had given the last chance to the defence counsel to appear but Baloch did not turn up.