KARACHI - An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Friday awarded death sentence to two activists of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-London (MQM-L) in a case involving murder of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Zahra Shahid in 2013.

ATC No XVII announced the judgement at the Judicial Complex inside Karachi jail. The court ruled that Rashid Tailor and Zahid Abbas Zaidi were involved in the killing of Zahra Shahid. The court awarded them death sentence and directed them to pay Rs200,000 each to legal heirs of the deceased as compensation. In case of default of payment they will undergo jail for another six months.

The court also found accused Zahid Abbas involved in possession of illicit arms and sentenced him to seven years in prison. The court imposed a fine of Rs50,000 and in case of default in payment of fine the convict shall undergo jail for another six months.

In its judgement, the court ordered forfeiture of moveable and immoveable properties of the accused worth Rs500,000 each. However, the court acquitted two accused Irfan and Kaleem due to a lack of evidence.

Zahar Shahid was attacked outside her Defence Housing Authority residence on May 17, 2013 on the eve of re-election in the NA-250 constituency. The killing stoked tension in the city, with the PTI accusing the MQM-L of orchestrating the murder.

Accused Mohammad Rashid alias Master, Zahid Abbas Zaidi, Irfan alias Lamba and Kaleem are said to be associated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) along with their absconding accomplices.  In their final arguments, the defence counsel argued that their clients were innocent, having nothing to do with the offence.

The defence also mentioned that four defence witnesses, including relatives of the detained men and others, had said before the court that law enforcers took them into custody from their homes or workplaces, which was witnessed by many people.

The police claimed to have arrested Rashid in an illegal weapons case on Sept 25, 2013. The prosecution claimed that during interrogation he confessed to his involvement in the case of PTI leader’s murder. Later, police arrested Zahid Abbas Zaidi on Oct 2, 2013.

A case was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at the Gizri Police Station.