Peshawar High Court stays execution of Taliban leader

PESHAWAR (Dawn/ANN) - The execution of former spokesman for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s Swat chapter, Muslim Khan, who was sentenced to death last year by a military court on multiple charges of terrorism was stayed.

The Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday stayed the execution of former spokesman for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s Swat chapter, Muslim Khan, who was sentenced to death last year by a military court on multiple charges of terrorism.

The PHC bench comprising Chief Justice Yahya Afridi and Justice Ijaz Anwer issued the order after a preliminary hearing of a petition filed by Nida Bibi, wife of Khan, challenging the conviction of her husband by the military court.

The bench issued notices to the ministries of defence and interior directing them to submit the record of the case and fixed June 1 for the next hearing.

Advocate Tariq Asad, representing the petitioner, put forward different objections to the trial of Khan under the Army Act.

He said that Khan was taken into custody by security forces in Sept 2009 after which nothing was known about him. Finally, his family came to know about his conviction through newspapers in Dec 2016.

The counsel said that the family had not been provided record of the trial proceedings and it was not known under what charges Khan had been convicted. They submitted an application to the military court of appeal seeking details of the trial proceedings, but no reply was given to them.

He said that Khan was not provided a counsel of his own choice and was denied fair trial as provided under article 10-A of the Constitution.

The counsel said that the convict had remained in custody of security forces for seven years and it was not known under what conditions he had been kept.

Apparently the proceedings of the military court were one-sided, he argued.

The Inter-Services Public relations (ISPR), the media wing of the army, had on Dec 28, 2016 announced the conviction of Khan by a military court. The ISPR had claimed that he was involved in the killing of innocent civilians and attacks on armed forces and law enforcement agencies, which had resulted in death of 31 people, including Inspector Sher Ali, and injuries to 69 others.

It claimed that Khan was also involved in the slaughtering of four army officials — Captain Najam Riaz Raja, Captain Junaid Khan, Naik Shahid Rasool and Lance Naik Shakeel Ahmed. Furthermore, he was involved in the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers and a local civilian for ransom.

The ISPR had said that Khan had admitted to his offences before the magistrate and the trial court.

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