- Karachi court indicts PPP MPA Jam Awais and co-accused.
- Awais, his six servants were charged with kidnapping and torturing Nazim Jokhio to death.
- Accused plead not guilty and opt to contest charges.
KARACHI: A local court on Saturday indicted Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) sitting MPA Jam Awais and seven of his servants in the Nazim Jokhio murder case after one year of court proceedings since the trial began.
The MPA and six co-accused were formally charged with kidnapping and torturing local journalist Nazim Jokhio to death in Memon Goth Police Station’s jurisdiction in November 2021, while the remaining co-accused with concealing the evidence of the crime.
Additional District and Sessions Judge-I (Malir) Faraz Ahmed Chandio read out the charges to Awais, Mohammad Mairaj, Mohammad Saleem Salar, Ahmed Khan, Doda Khan, Mohammad Soomar, Haider Ali and Meer Ali. All the accused pleaded not guilty and opted to contest the charges.
The judge directed the prosecution to present its witnesses to record their testimonies against the accused. The hearing was put off till December 15 when he would hear a compromise application jointly filed by the legal heirs of the victim and the lawmaker as well as four other accused. It has been pleaded by the accused that the court may be pleased to acquit them as the family of slain activist had patched up with them after the “intervention of elders” and pardoned them in the name of Allah Almighty.
Initially, the six accused, Jam Awais, Mairaj, Saleem Salar, Doda, Soomar and Ahmed Khan, had entered into a compromise with the family but later Saleem filed an application in the court stating that he was not interested in an out-of-court settlement and wanted to contest the charges levelled against him.
In January this year, the investigating officer had filed a final charge sheet against the accused before a judicial magistrate. Later in Feb, the magistrate announced his decision on the charge sheet, ruling that the case falls within the ambit of terrorism and ought to be tried by an anti-terrorism court.
However, the ATC in May declared that the murder of Nazim Jokhio was not an act of terrorism and sent the case back to the Malir court for trial. Subsequently, the judicial magistrate in July took cognisance of the offences allegedly committed by the accused under sections 302 (premeditated murder), 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of off, or giving false information to screen offender), 365 (kidnapping), 506 (criminal intimidation), 109 (abetment) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).
He had ruled that Jam Awais and his seven servants will stand trial while discharged his elder brother MNA Jam Abdul Karim and five others due to “insufficient evidence” against them.
Nazim Jokhio was found dead last year in November at a farmhouse belonging to the PPP MPA. The victim’s brother Afzal Jokhio had named Awais and his MNA brother as well as their guards in the FIR for allegedly torturing the victim to death. He was allegedly murdered after he posted a video on social media that showed foreigners who had been visiting the Thatta district hunting houbara bustard. The foreigners were reportedly guests of the PPP lawmakers.