Supreme Court (SC) lauds Special Joint Investigation Team (SJIT)’s progress report on journalist’s murder
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court appreciated the Special Joint Investigation Team’s (SJIT) progress report in the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif, who was shot dead in Kenya on October 23 last year.
A five-judge larger bench, headed by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial, and also comprising Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice S Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, on Thursday heard the case relating to the brutal killing of Arshad Sharif.
The chief justice said: “We are happy that the (federal) government is cooperating with the SJIT.” Justice Ijaz alongside Justice Naqvi asked the JIT to approach the UN to help in the investigation.
The police submitted a 13-page interim report to the court about investigations into Sharif’s murder for the perusal of the judges in chambers only. The chief justice noted that there are “deep points” in the report that could not be discussed in the courtroom. He further noted that some digital equipment belonging to Sharif had yet to be recovered.
The court noted that some important items/evidence is either with the Kenyan intelligence agency, police or two Pakistanis, who were with Arshad Sharif in Kenya in his last days. The bench asked the Additional Attorney General for Pakistan (AAGP) to discuss with the Foreign Ministry the possibility of involving the United Nations in this matter.
The widow of senior journalist Arshad Sharif expressed reservations on two members of the SJIT, saying “the two officers of the Team are subordinate of the accused, therefore, does not trust them”. The chief justice said they can include the retired officers.
The chief justice told her to “have faith as institutions work on trust”. She then went on to request the apex court to include terrorism and abetment (Section 109) charges in the case. “These charges can be added at any point,” said Justice Naqvi.
Justice Mandokhail said the JIT would examine the case from all aspects.
Justice Naqvi said the court was not interfering in the investigation. “The court is giving freedom to the JIT for probe and the matter should be investigated transparently as the court is very serious about transparent investigation.”
At the onset of the hearing, AAGP Aamir Rehman informed the court that the JIT had recorded statements of 41 witnesses, who are available in Pakistan while Kenyan authorities had suggested the team visit the country to record the statements of required officials after January 15. He told that the JIT would spend two weeks in Kenya for this purpose. The government has also sent a mutual legal assistance (MLA) request to Kenyan authorities on January 4, he added.
The AAGP further informed that the federal government has provided the requisite funds to the SJIT so they go to investigate further in this matter. He further told that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is cooperating fully and ensured the requisite help, adding as soon as the MLA request is responded to, the SJIT members shall go to Kenya to continue the investigation.
Justice Ijazul Ahsan noted that there are three phases in this investigation. “The first is to probe into the circumstances that forced [Sharif] to leave Pakistan, the second phase is related to [his stay in] Dubai, and the third phase is about the investigation in Kenya,” he explained.
The case was adjourned until the first week of February.
Source: Business Recorder