A Malir court deferred until Sept 10 the indictment of Pakistan People’s Party MPA Jam Awais Bijar and his seven servants in the Nazim Jokhio murder case.
The lawmaker along with his servants has been booked on charges of murdering Jokhio, a local journalist, facilitating the heinous offence and concealing evidence.
Additional District and Sessions Judge-I (Malir) Faraz Ahmed Chandio adjourned the hearing until Sept 10 when he would likely to frame charges against the accused.
On July 17, a judicial magistrate, while accepting the final charge sheet, had transferred the case to the sessions court for the commencement of the murder trial. He said, “Grounds exist to believe that offence is committed. Therefore, cognizance is taken on the report for the offences under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender), 365 (kidnapping), 506 (criminal intimidation), 109 (abetment) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.”
He ruled that the detained MPA and his servants/guards — Doda Khan, Muhammad Soomar, Niaz Salar, Ahmed Shoro, Muhammad Mairaj, Muhammad Saleem and Zahid — will stand trial. However, the magistrate discharged MNA Abdul Kareem and five other accused —Jamal Ahmed, Abdul Razaque, Muhammad Khan, Muhammad Ishaque and Atta Muhammad — from the case for want of evidence. He observed that they were not nominated in the FIR nor was any evidence found or brought on record during the investigation.
The investigating officer had placed MPA Awais among others in the challan’s column-II, recommending the court to discharge him from the case for want of evidence.
The magistrate said that though the lawmaker was nominated in the FIR and witnesses in their initial statements implicated him in the crime, the IO recommended the court to set him free on the basis of affidavits given by the complainant as well as the widow of the deceased forgiving the accused in the name of Allah Almighty.
He said letting an accused off the hook on the basis of the compromise was not in the domain of the investigating officer; rather, it is the jurisdiction of the trial court to accept or reject it. He ruled that the MPA should stand trial for the crime.
The local journalist was found dead last year in November at a farmhouse belonging to the PPP MPA. The victim’s brother Afzal Jokhio had named Awais and his MNA brother as well as their guards in the FIR for allegedly torturing the man to death.
He was allegedly murdered after he posted a video on social media that showed foreigners who had been visiting the Thatta district hunting the houbara bustard. The foreigners were reportedly guests of the PPP lawmakers.
The victim’s widow Shireen and a brother, the complainant, later reached an out-of-court settlement with the influential lawmakers. Through their counsel, they submitted an affidavit to the court, expressing satisfaction with the police investigation into the case.