Sectarian killers thrive under legal system

Sectarian killers thrive under legal system

Nowshera : Pakistan | Mar 01, 2012 at 5:43 AM PST
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Shias, however, have not been the only victims of violence in the past two weeks in Pakistan. Peshawar is experiencing a spell of murderous violence. A bomb blast at the Kohat Road bus stand killed 13 last Thursday. The very next day four policemen died in a coordinated attack on the fortified Kotwali police station by militants who blew themselves up during the attack. Yesterday, a Chinese woman and her guide were murdered in the centre of the Peshawar City. In the neighbouring city of Nowshera, six people were killed in a bomb attack after a political rally on Monday.

While the attacks on police and indiscriminate violence against civilians is equally reprehensible, the perpetrators of violence, however, are not attacking the victims for their religious, political, or any other beliefs. The attacks on Shias and other religious minorities are targeted killings primarily motivated by the bigoted religious intolerance exhibited by certain fundamentalist Sunni sects.

The State seems helpless in delivering justice even when it is successful in arresting those accused of terrorism. The path from arrest to conviction is punctuated with traps that capture the public prosecutors, but give a free pass to the accused. Several well-known terrorists have been acquitted by the anti-terrorism courts because of the flawed judicial system where errors and omissions during documentation, investigation and prosecution of the crimes have earned the accused their freedom who wasted no time in rejoining militant outfits.

In 36 per cent of the cases, the courts acquitted the accused because they were not personally named in the FIR. This is an absurd requirement in terrorism cases. How can one ascertain the identity of the accused immediately after the terrorist attack when the FIR is registered? In most instances, FIRs are registered against unknown accused, which should not be the reason for the courts to acquit the accused because their identity was not known to the police or to the victims the very second the attack took place.

In 11 per cent of the cases, the courts have acquitted the accused because eyewitnesses could not put the accused at the crime scene. Again, an absurd requirement by the anti-terrorism courts. The dead victims of the terrorist violence cannot step out of their graves to identify the accused for the courts. The injured may have never seen the person/s detonating the bomb through a remote control device. Victims of sniper firing never know where the bullet has come from. Why then are the courts acquitting the accused because the eyewitnesses could not place them at the crime scene?The review of the 178 cases further revealed that many cases were thrown out because of the shortcomings during investigation. In 35 per cent of the cases issues with the police line-up (identity parade) resulted in an acquittal. In some cases the witness failed to identify the accused in the line-up, while in other cases a police line-up was never put together. In 26 per cent of the cases, the recovered evidence was found unsatisfactory by the courts. For instance, the recovered evidence,

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Sectarian killers thrive under legal system
The bloodbath of Shia Muslims at the hands of fundamentalist Sunnis continues along the streets and roads in Pakistan. The Shia victims of sectarian violence have little hope for justice since three out of every four terrorism cases end up in an acquittal on technicalities.
sadiqameen is based in Miānwāli, Punjab, Pakistan, and is a Stringer on Allvoices.
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