PHC stays execution of another alleged terrorist


PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court (PHC) has stayed execution of another alleged terrorist who was awarded death sentence by a military court on terrorism charges and the number of such cases has reached 29.
A two-member bench comprising Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ikramullah Khan issued notice to the federal government to submit record of the case before the next hearing.
The court suspended the death sentence after the father of the convict Syed Qasim Shah filed a review petition against the military court’s decision.
The petitioner, Amin Shah, claimed that his son was picked up by the law-enforcing agencies in 2015 and his whereabouts were not known ever since.
The petitioner’s lawyer Sajeel Shehryar submitted before the bench that the family came to know through media reports that Syed Qasim Shah had been awarded death sentence by a military court and the army chief had confirmed the sentence on December 16, 2016.
The lawyer stated that in its detailed judgment the Supreme Court, which had upheld the creation of military courts, had ruled that the judgments of the military courts were subject to judicial review on two grounds, i.e. jurisdictional error and mala fide of the law.
According to an ISPR press release issued after the Chief of Army Staff confirmed the death sentence, Syed Qasim Shah was a member of a proscribed organisation.
“He was involved in attacking office of NGO World Vision, resulting in death of six employees,” the ISPR claimed, adding that he was also found in possession of explosives. The convict admitted his offences before the magistrate and the trial court and he was awarded death sentence, it said.
The ISPR also said that Syed Qasim Shah was one of the 13 terrorists involved in heinous offences related to terrorism, including killing and slaughtering of innocent civilians, officials of law-enforcement agencies and armed forces of Pakistan.
The ISPR stated that the terrorists included those who planned and executed attacks on the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, Parade Lane Mosque in Rawalpindi, Marriot Hotel in Islamabad, office of the World Vision in Mansehra and an educational institution at Nawagai, Buner district.
On the whole, the ISPR claimed, these men were involved in killing 325 persons and causing injuries to 366 others. It said firearms and explosives were also recovered from them.
So far the PHC has suspended 29 cases of death sentences awarded by the military courts and cases are pending for review of the record of military courts.
The life of the military courts expired on Sunday. The courts were established after the passage of Constitutional (21stAmendment) Act, 2015 for trying suspected terrorists linked to militant outfits and using the name of religion or sect. The Act was published in the official gazette on January 8, 2015.
Under Section 1 (3) of the Act, its provisions should remain in force for two years from the date of its commencement.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army’s media wing, said in its recent statement that the military courts convicted 274 hardcore militants, including 161 sentenced to death and 113 others awarded prison terms, mostly life imprisonment.
However, only 12 of them have been executed and cases of several convicts are pending before the Supreme Court and high courts.