Pakistan

SC suspends execution of six militants awarded by military courts

ISLAMABAD: Supreme Court on Thursday suspended the implementation on death sentences of six convicts and the punishment of life imprisonment of another, ARY News reported.

The death sentences were awarded by the military courts on terror charges.

The orders were issued by the apex court during the hearing of a petition filed by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) challenging the death sentences handed down by military courts.

In the petition, SCBA had requested Supreme Court to pass an interim order staying the execution of the persons penalized by military court.

It argued that case regarding 21st constitutional amendment is being heard by the apex court and implementation on death sentences until the final disposal of the constitutional petition would be considered as unconstitutional and unjust.

The plea against implementation on death sentences awarded by military courts was filed by SCBA through its former president Asma Jahangir.

Hearing the case about 18th and 21st Amendments to the Constitution in Islamabad today, a 17-member bench of the Supreme Court presided by Chief Justice Nasirul Mulk  ordered to halt execution until conclusion of the case.

Following the orders of Apex court, execution of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants Noor Saeed, Haider Ali, Murad Khan, Inayatullah, Israruddin and Qari Zahir has been temporarily halted. All of them were awarded death sentences by the military courts, established under the 21st Amendment to the Constitution and Pakistan Army Act 1952. Chief of the Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif had approved the death sentences on April 2.

ASMA JAHANGIR

Prominent rights lawyer Asma Jehangir, who filed a separate petition against the secrecy surrounding the military trials, said ongoing trials being heard by the new tribunals would continue.

“The court has not suspended hearing and trials in other cases,” she told reporters.

“We are against these kangaroo courts, we will challenge other trials if it is proven that these courts are against the basic human rights.”

The Supreme Court order said those convicted by military courts had the right to appeal and directed the attorney general to file a reply in the case by April 22.

MILITARY COURTS

Nine military courts were established in January, after militants attacked a school in Peshawar, killing 134 pupils and 19 adults.

Amid popular pressure for crack down on militants after the school attack in December, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif championed the new courts in parliament and lifted a moratorium on the death penalty.

More than 50 people have been executed since then, after being convicted by civilian courts.

The new courts expanded the military’s already considerable powers, giving it the authority to try civilians accused of terrorism.

Human rights groups say convictions by any courts in Pakistan can be highly unreliable because of an antiquated criminal justice system, the use of torture to extract confessions and shoddy police investigations.

Critics have raised questions about how fair and accountable the military courts are and the Supreme Court Bar Association had filed a legal challenge against them.

It had requested a stay of execution for those convicted.

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