The case of three innocents sentenced to death at Gujrat
(The accused were acquitted by Lahore High Court in March 2011. Ed.)
Three Ahmadis of Chak Sikandar, District Gujrat, innocent of the alleged crime, have been sentenced to Death in a ‘Private Case’.
Gross miscarriage of justice with serious implications
Three Ahmadis, namely Messrs Nasir Ahmad, Muhammad Idrees and Basharat were wrongfully sentenced to death on April 21, 2005 on murder charge in a Complaint Case. These men are innocent; they did not commit the alleged crime. They are in prison since September 2003. Their appeal awaits hearing at the Lahore High Court. These poor bread-winners of their families are suffering unduly, and are at risk of being hanged, a situation that could bring much disrepute to Pakistan.
Briefly, some unknown persons murdered a mulla Maulvi Ameer and his son outside Chak Sikandar on September 4, 2003. The mulla thrived on anti-Ahmadi platform, but as an extremist he had gained influence and power in the area, and had antagonized his own Baradari (clan) and other power centers of local politics. He was a suspect of involvement in two murders, but was not indicted; however the aggrieved families bore grudge against him. When he met a violent death, his brother Abdul Ghafoor, another mulla, found it convenient to put the blame on Ahmadis.
Although, none other than the killers and the two victims were present at the scene of the crime, Abdul Ghafoor fabricated a story for the FIR that was typical for such occasions in the Punjab, in that maximum number of the other party, guilty or not, are implicated in the murder, so as to derive maximum benefit to worsen them through the State. Abdul Ghafoor thus named 8 known Ahmadis and 2 unknown persons as the attackers, and offered himself, Tanveer, a son of Maulvi Ameer and two others as eye-witnesses to the crime. He got it recorded in the FIR as to which accused carried which fire-arm, who fired at whom, and which bullet hit what part of whose body. In order to widen the net to trap local Ahmadi elders, he offered two eye-and-ear-witnesses that had heard and seen two Ahmadi elders conspiring and planning the murder in their Baithak (sitting room) the previous day. The FIR story was expertly concocted, but its details and fabricated perfection became its weakness as the false witnesses exposed themselves in the cross-examination in the court.
Initially, the police arrested all the local Ahmadi men that it could. However, on in-depth investigation they found all the accused innocent of the crime. The investigating officer was replaced by another; he also came to the same conclusion. Then a third officer re-investigated, and declared that the accused Ahmadis were not guilty of the crime. A senior officer then examined the whole case, endorsed the findings and directed his team to ‘look for the real accused’.
The police then approached the Ilaqa (Area) Magistrate to discharge the 10 accused. At this occasion, Mulla Ghafoor arrived at the court with an intimidating crowd. The magistrate got influenced, and rejected the police recommendation. Likewise, the Session Judge, granted the mulla’s wish, and wrongfully ordered that the State Case be ‘consolidated’ with Complaint Case. This order was legally unsupportable.
During the trial, the so-called eye-and-ear witnesses were conclusively proven to be bogus and liars. The judge acknowledged that, and consequently acquitted two of the accused charged of abetment and conspiracy, and also five of the main accused – 7, in all. However, based on the evidence of these very false witnesses, the brother and son of the mulla, the judge awarded death sentence to these three.
A great wrong has been done, and is continuing; as the innocent are lodged in death cells at Jhelum await a hearing. Even the State is rather innocent in this case, as essentially it was a Complaint Case. It would be perfectly appropriate for the State to request the Court to release the innocent on bail, and grant priority hearing to their appeal and give a fair decision on the Session’s Judgment.
The three innocent are now lodged in Jhelum prison. They are now in 7th year of incarceration for a crime they did not commit.
Case: Nasir Ahmad, Muhammad Idrees and Basharat, Appellants
The State, Respondent
Criminal Appeal No: 616/2005 Dated: 26 April 2005
At: the Lahore High Court August 2010