Getting away with murder

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One murder case that has remained alive for over six years now in the Pakistani courts can give you countless insights into how money and influence can help bend the long arm of the law to suit one’s purpose.

If the optics are to be believed, Shahrukh Jatoi, who along with his three accomplices murdered a 20-year old Shahzeb Khan in Karachi on December 25, 2012, he never for a second looked worried about the outcome of the case. After six years, the Sindh High Court on Monday commuted the death sentences of Shahrukh Jatoi and Siraj Talpur.

Over the years, we saw a seesaw of convictions, acquittals and commutations. An anti-terrorism court in 2013 had awarded death sentences to Jatoi and Talpur for the murder, while life sentences were awarded to two others – Sajjad Ali Talpur and Ghulam Murtaza Lashari. Shahzeb’s parents later decided to pardon those responsible for the murder of their son. The convicts filed appeals in the SHC against the conviction while Shahrukh had also filed a criminal review application contending that he was a juvenile at the time of the offence. In Nov 2017, SHC had set aside the conviction and ordered for a fresh trial. Later, the session’s court had released Shahrukh and others on bail. The apex court through a suo motu, in February 2018, setting aside the SHC judgement, remanded the case back to the SHC.

The murder convict belongs to a feudal family of Sindh. Since day one, the Jatoi family used its influence declaring the boy minor and innocent. Were it not for the then chief justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Chaudhry, Shahrukh Jatoi wouldn’t have been arrested as he was able to flee abroad on fake documents.

The hapless parents of Shahzeb, who had earlier announced to pursue the case to its logical end, under immense pressure struck a deal with the Jatoi family and withdrew the case under the Qisas and Diyat law. According to media reports, the parents of Shahzaib Khan received Rs250 million before pardoning the killers. The victim’s family no longer is pursuing the case due to the deal with the Jatois.

Even when Jatoi and his three accomplices were in jail they stayed most of the time in a hospital where they had the means to buy themselves a luxurious lifestyle. This case shows that ‘greenbacks’ can win you freedom. You can literally get away with murder.