JIT informs SC that Kenyan officials denied access to potential evidence in Arshad Sharif case

JIT informs SC that Kenyan officials denied access to potential evidence in Arshad Sharif case


Found no evidence in Kenya, JIT tells Supreme Court in Arshad Sharif murder case

ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the murder of senior journalist Arshad Sharif told the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Monday that no valid evidence was found during Kenya visit and also cited a lack of cooperation from the authorities of the East African country. 

A five-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial and comprising Justice Ijazul Ehsan, Justice Muneeb Akhtar, Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail and Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar, heard the suo motu notice.

In October last, the senior journalist was shot dead by the Kenyan police in what they claimed a “mistaken identity” case while he was returning to Nairobi from Kenya’s Magadi Town. The Kenyan police claimed that they opened fire after the vehicle breached a blockade. Following the murder, the top court took suo motu notice and ordered an inquiry into the murder case.

During Monday's hearing, JIT head Awais Ahmed submitted the second progress report on the probe into the killing of the senior journalist. When Justice Naqvi inquired if the JIF found something in the case during Kenya visit, Mr Ahmed said the team found no solid evidence in Kenya, adding that the authorities of the foreign country did not provide access to the evidence in the case. Justice Naqvi said discussion regarding evidence would be made during the trial, saying the court right now wanted to know what material they had collected in Kenya. 

In reply to a question by Justice Ijazul Ahsan, the JIT head said the mobile phone and ipad of Mr Sharif were in the custody of Kenay’s IT department, adding that other belongings had been received.

The additional attorney general, who also attended the hearing, said people who had registered cases against Mr Sharif were also being interrogated. He said it would be premature to name someone as perpetrator in it. Justice Naqvi reprimanded the additional attorney general, saying what he had told was first part of the investigation and it was still incomplete. “Don’t play with court,” the judge rebuked the government lawyer.

At one point, CJP Bandial remarked the investigation in Pakistan was marred by multiple mistakes. He also expressed resentment over leaking of the fact-finding report in the case. “Find the person who is behind leaking the unverified report,” he said. 

Read More: CJP Bandial says reasons behind Arshad Sharif's move to leave Pakistan should be probed

When Justice Muhammad Ali Mazhar asked if statements of two suspects Khurram and Waqar – the two Pakistanis who had hosted Arshad Sharif in Kenya – had been recorded, the additional attorney general said the Kenyan authorities only arranged a meeting with the director public prosecutor. He said Kenyan officials had assured full cooperation in the investigation but did not allow the JIT members to visit the crime scene. “Diplomatic pressure is also being put on Kenya,” he said.

When Justice Ahsan said the platform of the United Nations could be used to push Kenya for cooperation in the investigation, the additional attorney general said Kenya was a friendly state and “we don’t want to take a step that could damage the bilateral relations”.

CJP Bandial said Kenya was an independent state and a respectful way should be adopted to deal with the foreign country. 

Later, the top court adjourned the case for one month and sought a progress report from the JIT in two weeks.