Scribe`s killing: Pak SC issues notices

Last Updated: Friday, June 17, 2011 - 15:27

Islamabad: As a government-appointed judicial
panel to probe reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad`s killing ran into
problems within hours of its creation, Pakistan Supreme Court
on Friday issued notices to authorities to respond to a petition
seeking formation of an independent commission to investigate
the murder.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry issued notices to the Law, Information and Interior
Secretaries to submit their responses to the petition filed by
a journalists` organisation at the next hearing on
Monday.

The court also directed the government and the police
chiefs of Punjab and Islamabad to submit detailed reports on
the investigations conducted so far into Shahzad`s killing.

The bench was hearing a Constitutional petition filed
by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) seeking
the formation of an independent judicial commission headed by
an apex court judge to probe the murder.

The PFUJ approached the apex court after a judicial
commission formed by the government to probe Shahzad`s death
ran into problems within hours of its creation yesterday.

Supreme Court Justice Saqib Nisar, chosen by the
government to head the commission, said he could not take up
the task as the Chief Justice was not consulted about the
appointment.

Nisar said he would have accepted the responsibility if
the government had taken the Chief Justice into confidence
first.

Supreme Court Bar Association President Asma Jahangir
and senior lawyer Munir Malik appeared on behalf of the PFUJ
at the hearing.

Outside the court, Jahangir told reporters there were
allegations that a "powerful federal agency" was involved in
Shahzad`s death.

Such powerful institutions needed to be controlled,
she said, without naming the federal agency.

Jahangir said she had learnt from a representative of
the Punjab government that the investigation into the killing
had reached a "dead end".

There were reports that Shahzad`s mobile phone records
had been partially erased, she indicated.

The PFUJ`s petition also asked the apex court to direct
the government and law enforcement agencies to appoint
a competent police officer to investigate Shahzad`s case and
provide complete protection to journalists.

Shahzad went missing in Islamabad while driving from
his home to a TV station on May 29, two days after he alleged
in an article that the Pakistani navy had been infiltrated by
al-Qaeda.

His body, bearing marks of torture, was found in a
canal in Punjab province.

Journalists` organisations and rights groups blamed
the ISI for Shahzad`s death, a charge denied by the powerful
spy agency.

PTI



First Published: Friday, June 17, 2011 - 15:27

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