Baldia factory arson case: Two convicts challenge death sentences in SHC

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Two MQM workers, Zubair aka Chariya and Abdul Rehman aka Bhola, moved on Wednesday appeals in the Sindh High Court (SHC) challenging their conviction in the high-profile Baldia factory fire case. The two convicts, who were sentenced to death by an anti-terrorism court (ATC) on September 22, filed the appeals through their lawyers, requesting the high court to strike down their conviction. The appellants stated in their pleas that the ATC ignored key evidence while deciding the case. On September 22, the ATC had convicted Bhola and Chariya on eleven counts, handing each of them death sentences on two counts, life sentences on four counts, 10-year prison term on two counts as well as imprisonment of seven, three and two years on three counts. The factory’s four employees – Shahrukh, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood and Ali Mohammad – were found guilty of aiding the convicts in carrying out the arson attack that resulted in the deaths of 264 people and injuries to 60 others and were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life on two counts, along with a fine of Rs0.2 million on each count. They were also directed to pay Rs27,77,353 as diyat to each of the victims’ heirs. However, the court exonerated MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui, the then-provincial minister for commerce and industries, and three others from all charges.