RAWALPINDI - Five convicts of Safoora Goth killings and Sabeen Mehnood murder case in Karachi yesterday approached the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench challenging order of a military court which awarded them death punishment.

The LHC Rawalpindi Bench is likely to take up the petitions on Monday as the petitioners had prayed to the court to set aside the verdict of the FGCM.

An Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release on May 12 had announced the confirmation of death sentences to the five terrorists, including Tahir Minhas, Saad Aziz, Asadur Rehman, Mohammad Azhar Ishrat and Hafiz Nasir Ahmed in nine cases of terrorism.

The petitioners filed petition through their lawyer Hashmat Habib Advocate making secretary defence and secretary interior as respondents.

The petitioners maintained that they were being involved in number of cases and challans were submitted in the Anti Terrorism Courts (ATC).

Trials of the said cases were pending but the Sindh police without authority on January 12, 2016 transferred their cases for trial to military court.

For four months, the petitioners remained confined and were not allowed to meet their family members. On May 14, 2016, the petitioners were shifted to central prison in Karachi with military court orders to be hanged by neck till death. 

They contended the judgment passed by the FGCM was challenged before a Military Court of Appeals that through single lined Judgment rejected their appeals on July 25, 2016. During proceedings of appeals, the petitioners were not provided with the copies of FGCM proceedings.

The petitioners contended that they were innocent and had been made scapegoats to save the real culprits involved in different cases.

They argued that from the sequence of events right from their arrest till rejection of appeals, it appeared that the petitioners had been awarded death penalty already determined by the elements at the helms of affairs. The sentence is not sustainable in the eye of law. The petitioners further contended that throughout the court proceedings, their lawyer provided them for defense was a mere spectator. All witnesses had changed and fine-tuned their statements recorded previously.

Under Article 10-A of the constitution, fair trial and due process of law is guaranteed as a basic right with availability of defence counsel of choice.

Similarly Pakistan Army Act and its rules also guaranteed the right of fair trial and due process of law but all such rights have been refused. As per prosecution, convict Tahir Minhas was the mastermind of the Safoora Goth carnage on May 13, 2015 where 47 members of the Shia Ismaili community were killed in an attack on their bus.

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 25-Sep-2016 here.