Friday, November 14, 2008

Four get life for kidnapping industrialist

An anti-terrorism court sentenced four persons to life imprisonment for kidnapping a factory owner for ransom.Manzar Khan, Jalal Khan, Maqbool Ahmed and Habib-ur-Rahman – along with their two absconding associates – were charged with kidnapping Jalaluddin on March 20, 2007 in the Korangi Industrial Area and demanding ransom for his release.

The judge, Hasan Ali Bukhari of ATC-I, pronounced the order after recording final arguments from both sides.The court also ordered confiscation of their property to the extent of Rs200,000 each and in the case of default or non-recovery the convicts would have to undergo an additional six-month imprisonment.

According to the judgment, the prosecution had examined complainant Jalaluddin and he stated that soon after he had left the factory on March 20, 2007 the accused had kidnapped him at gunpoint, snatched his two cellphones and directed him to call his mother for payment of Rs50 million as ransom.Finally, the ransom amount was settled at Rs3 million and he was released on the promise that the ransom money would be paid later through his driver.

The judge in his verdict observed that the evidence of the complainant was corroborated by prosecution witnesses and their statements had not been challenged as no material question was put to them by the defence counsel for falsely testifying against the accused, whereas the judicial magistrate in his statement had said that the complainant had identified the accused during the identification parade held in his court.

“All the witnesses were cross-examined at length by the defence counsel, but no enmity was suggested between the accused and the complainant for false implication of the accused in the case. The citation relied upon by the special public prosecutor has further supported the case of the prosecution.

From the evidence of the witnesses, it is clear that the complainant was kidnapped and taken to a house in Manghopir for ransom at gunpoint,” he said.He further observed that he had not found any major contradiction in the statements of prosecution witnesses and despite being subjected to lengthy cross-examination, no dent had been created by the defence counsel in the testimonies nor he had given a plausible defence.

The judge concluded that after considering the material evidence that came on record, he was of the considered view that the prosecution had proved its case against the accused beyond any shade of doubt.The accused were produced in court and were sent back to the Central Prison with the conviction warrant to serve out the sentences.Co-accused Shafi Jan and Niaz Khan were shown as absconders in the charge-sheet, and the court issued non-bailable warrants for their arrest.

However, they could not be arrested and the court after completing formalities declared them proclaimed offenders. The case of the absconding accused would be kept in a ‘dormant file’ and they would be tried after their arrest.Kidnapping masterminded by victim’s driverThe prosecution had produced eight witnesses – ASI Ahmed Khan Niazi, judicial magistrate Maqbool Ahmed, complainant Jalaluddin, inspector Tasawwur Ameer, SIP Ali Muhammad, Shah Bibi (mother of the complainant), caption Akhtar Abbas of a tracker company and investigation officer Mohammad Babar – before the trial court.

According to the prosecution, the accused had kidnapped Jalaluddin Kayani and his driver, Manzar Khan, on March 20, 2007 in the Korangi Industrial Area police limits and demanded Rs50 million for his release.The captive himself settled the ransom amount with the accused as none of his family members, except the elderly parents, was present in the city.

The following day the kidnappers released Jalaluddin and his driver on the assurance that he would arrange the ransom and deliver it through his driver. The victim arranged the amount and, in the meantime, informed the police about the incident. As he handed over Rs100,000 to his driver, a team of the Anti-Violent Crime Cell chased the driver and later arrested him and seized the ransom money.

The AVCC team acting on information provided by the accused conducted a raid in Neelam Colony and arrested the co-accused.Earlier, Special Public Prosecutor Mohammad Khan Buriro submitted that the prosecution had provided sufficient evidence against the accused to prove their involvement in the case.

He said the victim had not only identified the accused during the identification parade held in the court of a judicial magistrate, but had also assigned their roles, adding that the prosecution produced the data of cellular companies which showed that the accused called the mother of the victim in order to demand the ransom money.

He further argued that the driver of the victim, Manzar Khan, also recorded his confessional statement at the police station and also told the whereabouts of his associates, who were later arrested at the said location, adding that the persecution had successfully proved its case. He requested the court to award punishment to the accused.

The defence counsel submitted that there was no direct evidence against the accused and the prosecution had failed to establish its case as the story revealed by the prosecution said that the ransom was not directly collected, which clearly reflected the false implication of his clients in the case.

He contended that the accused were arrested on March 31, 2007 and their faces were shown to the complainant by the AVCC before the identification parade, which was held with a delay of 10 days.He appealed that the accused be acquitted, arguing that the prosecution had failed to provide solid evidence against them.

The charge-sheet said that Manzar Khan had hatched the kidnapping plan and for this purpose he had got help of his friends. But they released the victim after a settlement as they did not have a proper place to detain him.A case (FIR 224/2007) was registered under Sections 365-A and 392/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with Section 7 of the Anti-terrorism Act 1997, against the accused on the complaint of the victim.

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