Wali Babar case: SHC to rehear Faisal Mota's appeal against death sentence on Sept 21

The Sindh High Court (SHC) will rehear an appeal filed against the death sentence awarded to Faisal Mehmood, alias Mota — the prime accused in 2011 murder case of broadcast journalist Wali Khan Babar — on September 21.

The Larkana bench of the SHC, after hearing arguments from both sides on August 16, issued a written order on the appeal. According to the order, the court has set September 21 as the date for further hearing of the appeal, saying, "some further assistance is required from the learned counsel for the appellant [Mota] as well as D.P.G [deputy prosecutor general]".

Earlier, it was misreported that the high court had set aside the death sentence awarded to Faisal Mota, and that it had ordered a retrial of the case in the relevant lower court. In fact, the court will hear additional arguments on the appeal during the hearing next month.

Faisal Mota was sentenced to death in absentia by an anti-terrorism court in March 2014 for masterminding the murder of Wali Babar in 2011.

The convict had filed a petition in the SHC against capital punishment handed down to him by the ATC.

Faisal was arrested along with many others during a raid in and around the MQM headquarters, Nine Zero, and the Khurshid Begum Memorial Hall in Azizabad in March 2015.

In his arguments, the counsel for the suspect, Amir Mansoob Qureshi, assailed the capital punishment awarded to him, arguing that death sentence could not be awarded in absentia according to Sections 21-L and 31-A of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

He argued that the convict must refer to the trial court under the law in case of punishment in absentia. However, the counsel said, his client was unable to refer to the ATC in Kandhkot where the sentence had been announced, because the records of the case were at the SHC.

Journalist Wali Babar, associated with GeoNews, was gunned down on the evening of Jan 30, 2011 while he was driving back home near Liaquatabad No. 10. Syed Mohammad Ali Rizvi, Shahrukh alias Mani, Naveed alias Polka, Shakil alias Malik, and other suspects had also been indicted for the murder. Another suspect in the murder case, Liaquat, was killed in a “police encounter” near Seaview beach in May 2012.

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