Shahzeb murder case: Shahrukh Jatoi, two others released on bail

KARACHI –  Shahrukh Jatoi and two co-accused earlier convicted in the murder of 20-year-old Shahzeb Khan were released from jail after their bail applications were approved by a court on Saturday.

Jatoi had covered his face with the hood of his sweatshirt when he walked out of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) in Karachi, where he was undergoing treatment. The hospital had been declared a sub-jail. Two other accused, Sajjad Ali Talpur and Siraj Ali Talpur, were released from the Central Jail Karachi.

The accused were allowed post-bail by District and Sessions Judge Imdad Hussain Khoso who is overseeing a retrial of the case.

The bail, which was set at Rs 500,000 for each of the accused, was promptly deposited by a lawyer on behalf of Jatoi and the Talpur brothers. The counsel also moved the court for the immediate signing of their release orders, which were issued forthwith.

Shahzeb Khan’s father, Aurangzeb Khan, had earlier in the day asked the sessions court not only to release the four men earlier convicted of his son’s murder on bail, but also drop the case against them completely. He argued his family had earlier pardoned his son’s killers.

Pakistani law has a maximum punishment of the death penalty or life in prison for a murder. But, under Islamic laws of Qisas and Diyat, the victim’s families can strike an out-of-court deal with the murderers. In that case, the victim’s families generally appear in court to testify that they have pardoned the murderer in the name of God. However, Shahzeb’s family had waived their right to Qisas and Diyat and told the court they had reached an out-of-court compromise with the accused’s family.

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) had earlier awarded the death penalty to Shahrukh Jatoi and Siraj Ali Talpur for 20-year-old Shahzeb’s murder in 2012 over a petty dispute. Siraj’s younger brother, Sajjad Ali Talpur, and domestic helper Ghulam Murtaza Lashari had been awarded life sentences.

A couple of months after the sentence, Shahzeb’s parents had issued a formal pardon for the convicts, approved by the Sindh High Court.

Despite the pardon, the death penalty had been upheld because of the addition of terrorism charges to the case. However, the SHC recently set aside the death penalty and ordered a retrial of the case in a sessions court after a criminal review petition filed by Jatoi’s lawyer argued that terrorism charges should be dropped as the prime suspect was a juvenile at the time of the offence.

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