Pakistani soldier to die for civilian killing

Paramilitary soldier who was filmed shooting an unarmed young man at point blank is sentenced to death.

    Footage of Sarfaraz Shah's killing caused tremendous anger across Pakistan 

    A Pakistani court has sentenced a paramilitary soldier to death and handed six others life terms for killing an unarmed man at point blank range in an incident that was caught on camera and sparked public backlash.

    Friday's verdict concludes a relatively swift trial, which got underway after the seven defendants were formally charged with murder and terrorism on June 29, just weeks after the killing.

    The June 8 killing of Sarfaraz Shah, 22, was filmed and broadcast on television, renewing concern over the brutality of trained officers in a country awash with violence blamed on the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

    Judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso read out the verdict before an anti-terrorism court in Karachi, finding Shahid Zafar guilty of pulling the trigger and sentencing him to death and a fine.

    "The crime of killing Sarfraz Shah has been proved against you and I announce the death sentence and also impose a fine of 200,000 rupees [of $2,300]," said Khoso, addressing Zafar.

    He handed life terms to five other paramilitary soldiers, known as Rangers, and a civilian who had accused Shah of robbery and assaulted him. The judge ordered each to pay 100,000 rupees to the victim's family.

    The public and media reaction to the killing had forced the government to remove the provincial chiefs of police and Rangers in Karachi.

    Brutality of forces

    The widely aired footage showed a clean-shaven and unarmed Shah, wearing black trousers and a navy shirt, pleading for his life before he is shot twice.

    He then begs for help while the soldiers appear to watch him lapse into unconsciousness.

    Despite no evidence in the video that Shah was armed, Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, whose ministry is responsible for the Rangers, had claimed that the victim had been carrying an unlicensed weapon.

    The killings last month by security forces of five unarmed Chechens, one of them a pregnant woman, in the city of Quetta are also under investigation.

    Answerable to the interior ministry, more than 10,000 paramilitary troops patrol Karachi, Pakistan's financial capital, and its surroundings to combat routine ethnic, political and Islamist violence in the city of 16 million.

    Human rights activists condemned Shah's killing and complained that the Rangers, established for combat and border duty, are neither equipped nor trained for civilian areas.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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