Arshad Sharif Case. SC directs govt to constitute a new special JIT to probe the killing of journalist “We apologise for the unfortunate incident,” the CJP said. He also assured the mother that the investigative team will work without any pressure.

SC directs govt to constitute a new special JIT comprising intelligence officials to probe the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif

Summons names of the officials for JIT till today

The mother of the slain journalist got emotional as she appeared in court to witness the proceedings.

“Mrs Alvi is the mother of two martyrs. Would Arshad Sharif’s mother like to say anything else,” said the CJP. He assured the mother that the FIR has been registered and her statement will be recorded.

“We apologise for the unfortunate incident,” the CJP said. He also assured the mother that the investigative team will work without any pressure.

ISLAMABAD ( Web News )

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on Wednesday directed the government to constitute a new special joint investigation team (JIT) comprising intelligence officials to probe the killing of senior journalist Muhammad Arshad Sharif in Kenya.

The apex court issued the directives while hearing the suo motu case on Arshad Sharif’s killing. Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umar Ata Bandial said the JIT should include officials from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the Intelligence Bureau (IB), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and the police. The court has directed the federal government to present the names of the officials for the new JIT by today (Thursday).

The SC said that the first information report (FIR) of the case, which was registered a day earlier, was brief as an investigation had not taken place and there were no eyewitnesses.

The court directed the government to issue a notification and inform it about the members of the JIT by today (Thursday), adding that the probe should be conducted by senior officers.

The members of the JIT should also be experts in understanding the case and gathering evidence from other countries, the court said. It also asked the foreign affairs ministry to assist the JIT in collecting evidence.

“The court has not formed a judicial commission as it is a criminal case,” CJP Bandial observed during the hearing, adding that the investigation should begin from Khurram Ahmed and Waqar Ahmed, the two men Arshad Sharif was in contact with in Kenya.

Ahead of Wednesday’s hearing, copy of the report compiled by the fact-finding committee was also submitted. The report is 592 pages long and bears the signatures of FIA Director Muhammad Dr. Muhammad Athar Waheed and Intelligence Bureau (IB) Deputy Director General Omar Shahid Hamid.

A five-member bench, comprising CJP Bandial, Justice Ijazul Ahsan, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhel and Justice Mohammad Ali Mazhar is presiding over the hearing.

Arshad Sharif’s mother Riffat Ara Alvi and his widow were present for the hearing, along with the FIA director general, the information secretary and the Islamabad police chief.

At the outset of the hearing, the interior ministry presented the fact-finding report. The first information report (FIR) registered on Tuesday of the journalist’s killing was also presented.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Aamir Rehman said the investigating team had received information from Kenyan authorities. The team also met three of the officials who fired at Sharif, he said, adding that a meeting with the fourth could not be arranged as he was injured.

The AAG further said that the government was trying to arrange a meeting with the relevant minister and the cabinet secretary. “The high commission in Kenya is in contact with the relevant authorities,” he said.

At this, Justice Ahsan asked about the identity of the alleged shooters. The AAG replied that they were allegedly Kenyan police officials.

Justice Mazhar pointed out that the report submitted to the court did not contain what the officials had told the investigating team from Pakistan.

“The court was provided the report at 1am,” the CJP remarked. He pointed out that the real evidence of the case was in Kenya, adding that the matter had to be taken up with Kenyan authorities.

Justice Naqvi lamented that the name of the Kenyan police officials who had shot at Sharif were also not disclosed in the report. “Why was a case not registered against the officials who fired [on Sharif]?” he asked.

The AAG told the court that it would have to be assessed if a case could be registered against foreigners. Rehman further said the inquiry report would become a part of the case record.

“This is a very serious matter. We are warning the government to also take it seriously,” Justice Naqvi remarked.

Taking the stand, Sharif’s mother contended that she did not want another mother to go through she had experienced. She also thanked the CJP for taking suo motu notice of her son’s killing.

“We were working on this case for a month,” the CJP said. “There is no need for thanks. The court is carrying out its duty,” he added.

Sharif’s mother told the court that the fact-finding report detailed how her son was first made to leave Pakistan and then Dubai. She further said that her son was receiving death threats. “I only want justice for my son,” she said.

The CJP called on the government to investigate her claims from all angles. The court directed the officials concerned to record the statement of Sharif’s mother.

During the hearing, Justice Mandokhel pointed out that a female activist was killed last year in Canada. “If that case had been investigated, then maybe such a thing would not have happened with a Pakistani national in a foreign country,” he said.

“It is unfortunate that we only spring into action after an incident takes place,” Justice Mandokhel remarked.

“Federal government should immediately form a new investigation team. The court wants an independent team to investigate the issue,” remarked Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial. The CJP added that the court does not want any member to have connections with any influential person.

At the outset of Wednesday’s hearing, Chief Justice Bandial said that the court would hear the slain journalist’s mother. However, journalist Hassan Ayub Khan came to the rostrum and informed the court that she was not present as there were no lifts in the court.

The journalist also told the court about the police’s attitude towards the slain journalist’s family. CJP Bandial apologised for the lift and assured the journalist that they will also look into the police’s conduct.

Following this, Additional Attorney General Amir Rehman read the fact-finding committee’s report on the murder. He added that the report has been provided to Sharif’s family.

The government lawyer also told the court that the Foreign Ministry was cooperating as much as it could in this case.

At this, Justice Ijaz Ul Ahsan asked whether the alleged shooter was a member of the Kenyan police. While Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar questioned why the interviews of three police officers were not included in the report.

AAG Rehman told the bench that the investigative team took information from the Kenyan officials, adding that the three cops in question were introduced by them. He added that the fourth cop could not be interviewed as he was injured.

“We are trying to contact the relevant minister and cabinet secretary in Kenya. The Pakistan High Commission in Kenya is in touch with the relevant authorities,” he told the judges. He also informed the court that a case has been registered.

At this, Justice Ahsan once again asked the government lawyer who the shooters were in this incident. “They were Kenyan police officers,” the AAG said.

Meanwhile, Justice Bandial shared that report has been provided to the court at 1:00 am.

The CJP remarked that the journalist was brutally murdered, and asked the government to seek the Kenyan government’s cooperation. He also added that some witnesses of the case were in Pakistan.

The chief justice then asked whether anyone from the police department was present or the people who wrote the report were in the courtroom.

The AAG informed the CJP that IG Islamabad and the director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) were present in the court.

Meanwhile, Justice Sayyed Mazahar Ali Akbar Naqvi observed that the Kenyan police officers who had shot at Sharif were not mentioned in the report. He also asked why a case was not registered against the Kenyan cops.

At this, AAG Rehman said that there is a need to review if a case can be registered against foreigners. He added that the report was part of the record.

“This is a very serious matter. I’m warning the government to take this matter seriously. The court is not here to only listen to you,” remarked Justice Naqvi at the AAG’s response.

The mother of the slain journalist got emotional as she appeared in court to witness the proceedings.

“We request you for justice in the case,” Sharif’s mother asked CJP Bandial. She added that her son was forced to leave Pakistan and was not even spared abroad.

“We apologise for the unfortunate incident,” the CJP said. He also assured the mother that the investigative team will work without any pressure.

“Mrs Alvi is the mother of two martyrs. Would Arshad Sharif’s mother like to say anything else,” said the CJP. He assured the mother that the FIR has been registered and her statement will be recorded.

Meanwhile, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail observed that an activist was killed last year in Canada, adding that if that had been investigated then such an incident would not have happened with a Pakistani expat.

“It is very sad that we spring into action after the incident, not before,” observed Justice Mandokhail.

The court then issued directives to the Foreign Ministry to cooperate with the JIT, adding that if cooperation is required from the United Nations or other international bodies then it must be sought. The court then adjourned the hearing till today (Thursday).

Meanwhile it was informed in the FFT report that the murder of senior Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif was well-planned and it was not a case of mistaken identity as claimed by the Kenyan police.

Arshad Sharif was murdered near the Kenyan capital of Nairobi on Oct 23 by the personnel of the Kenya police in what the claimed a case of mistaken idenity. Following their unsatisfactory claims, the Pakistani government formed a committee to probe his murder.

A day earlier, the top court ordered the Islamabad police to register a case against Mr Sharif s murder after declaring his medical reports unsatisfactory. It also ordered the Ministry of Interior to submit the report of the fact-finding committee on Dec 7. The ministry had received the probe report on Dec 23.

In the report, the committee members stated that the slain TV anchorperson was forced to leave Pakistan after threats associated with the cases registered against over his alleged involvement in propaganda against institutions. The report also pointed out some violations in registration of cases against the senior journalist.

The investigators also found that Mr Sharif was made to leave the United Arab Emirates (UAE), adding that the authorities of the Gulf country had visited him and ordered him to leave the country. He was then given an ultimatum of 48 hours to move from Dubai while having no visa for any other country. He again applied for a UAE visit visa which was rejected shortly.

The probe team also found discrepancies in postmortems performed of doctors in Kenya and Pakistan. It also revealed that Kenyan police refused to produce one of the four officers who had opened fire on Mr Sharif.

The report also carries details of interrogation from Mr Khurram and Mr Waqar, Arshad’s friends, who had hosted in the East African country. Suspecting involvement of foreign hands, it divulged that Mr Waqar was in contact with international agencies and Kenya’s spy agency.

It also rejected that Mr Sharif was subjected to torture before being killed, stating no evidence of torture was found during the investigation.

The fact-finding team probing the murder of Arshad Sharif has concluded that his killing was a case of planned and targeted assassination by transnational characters and not a case of mistaken identity, as the Kenyan police earlier claimed.

According to the team’s report, the “transnational roles” of individuals from Kenya, Dubai, and Pakistan cannot be ruled out in the case.

“The four GSU (General Service Unit) police officials and OC GSU Training camp had been used as instruments in this case under influence, either financial or some other compulsion,” it stated.

The report stated that Waqar – who sponsored and hosted the journalist – was connected to Kenya’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) and other international agencies and law enforcement.

It furthered that the fact that Waqar handed over Sharif’s personal cell phone and iPad to a NIS officer, rather than to the police, ‘established’ his link with the NIS.

“His linkage with national and international agencies provides a scope of possibilities of transnational characters in this case”.

The report also said that the narrations presented by Khurram, who drove the vehicle prior to Sharif’s murder, regarding the sequence of events and the crime scene, were contrary to logic and facts, and that there were no penetration marks of a bullet on Sharif’s car seat.

Rather, the journalist was hit from the back and the bullet exited from the right side of his chest. The report maintained that Khurram’s narrative did not match “his [Sharif’s] sitting position, the position of the gunners as well as the line of fire”.

The report also declared that the Kenyan police’s claims of portraying the incident as a case of “mistaken identity” was also full of contradictions and that the statements given by the GSU police officials contradict themselves. “Their version of events is not believable”.

It furthered that the post-mortem report in Pakistan identified that four fingernails of the slain journalist’s left hand were missing, giving rise to speculation that Sharif had been tortured before his death.

However, it continued, that while the Kenyan post-mortem did mention “fingernails” taken as DNA samples, it did not mention how many fingernails were taken.

“Keeping in view the apparent differences in the two post-mortem reports, there is no concrete evidence to establish that Arshad Sharif was tortured before the killing,” the report said.

Moreover, the fact-finding team stated that there were “compelling reasons for Sharif to leave Pakistan due to the criminal cases registered against him in different districts” of the country and that he was asked to leave the UAE by Emirati authorities.

The report also highlighted the five principles of international criminal law that invoke the criminal jurisdiction of any country. These principles include the territorial principle, nationality principles, passive personality principle, protection principle, and universal principle.

With the aforementioned facts in view, the fact-finding team recommended that a case be registered under the relevant provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act at the Counter Terrorism Wing (CTW) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on the basis of Section 4 of PPC. This section discusses the principle of nationality in international criminal jurisdiction.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Umer Ata Bandial ordered the government to registered a case against the killing of Mr Sharif, more than a month after he was assassinated in Kenya.

The FIR has been lodged with Ramna police station in the capital on the complaint of the SHO. Three people including Waqar Ahmed s/o Afzal Ahmed, Khurram Ahmed s/o Afzal Ahmed and Tariq Ahmed Wasi s/o Muhammad Wasi have been nominated in the FIR.

According to the FIR, Sharif mortal remains were transported to Pakistan from Kenya and a medical board conducted postmortem. The FIR also stated that four samples were sent to the labortories by the board and it autopsy report stated that the senior journalist died of gunshot wounds and was killed in Kenya.

On the other hand, the federal capital police decided to constitute a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) comprising of DIG Headquarters, SP Sadr and Station House Officer (SHO) of the concerned police station. Sources further said that officials of the secret agencies have also been included in the JIT.