September 23rd, 2021
As the family of Noor Mukadam demands a death sentence for her murderer, a trial court in Islamabad on Thursday announced it would indict 12 people, including key suspect Zahir Jaffer and his parents Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Jaffer, on October 6.
According to police, Noor Mukadam, daughter of former ambassador to South Korea Shaukat Mukadam, was held captive, raped and brutally murdered by Zahir Jaffer when she reportedly refused to marry him while at the latter’s residence in Islamabad on July 20.
Additional Sessions Judge Ata Rabbani presided over the Noor’s murder trial hearing in which copies of the challan were distributed among the present suspects. Those who will be indicted are Zahir Jaffer, his parents Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Jaffer, three household servants Iftikhar, Jan Muhammad, and Jameel and six Therapy Works employees including Tahir Zahoor, Amjad, Dilip Kumar, Abdul Haq, Wamiq and Samar Abbas. The six Therapy Works employees also appeared in court since they were granted bail on August 23.
In a vigil outside the National Press Club in Islamabad ahead of the murder trial, Noor’s father called for awarding his daughter’s murderer the death sentence and exemplary sentences to his accomplices. “The murderer should be awarded death sentence,” Shaukat Mukadam told Munizae Jahangir,editor in chief Voicepk, at the vigil on Wednesday.
The former ambassador said he was satisfied with the police investigation into her daughter’s murder.
“The purpose of the vigil and protests held by Noor’s family and their supporters is to highlight the case so that no other Noor suffers this gruesome fate in the country,” Mukadam added.
“The murder case has become a test case for Pakistan as well as internationally,” he earlier told participants of the vigil, adding that the murder trial should be speedily concluded.
Verdict reserved on bail pleas
Justice Aamer Farooq of the Islamabad High Court reserved the verdict on bail applications of Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Jaffer after lawyers from both sides concluded their arguments.
During the hearing, Shah Khawar, counsel for plaintiff Shaukat Mukadam, father of Noor Mukadam, argued that the trial of Noor Mukadam case should be held in a special court under the presidential ordinance on rape trials. Justice Aamer Farooq said the term of the ordinance had lapsed and the trial of the case is to proceed in a sessions court and not a special court.
The judge remarked that it looked like that the plaintiff’s counsel wanted to delay the trial. Shah Khawar said that it was definitely not his intention to delay the case. The court said that if the counsel thought that the trial court had no jurisdiction, then he should have filed the application in the relevant court.
The court also told SSP Investigation Ata-ur-Rehman to instruct his police team to do their work properly. Continuing his arguments, Shah Khawar quoted from court documents that the record of call data of Zahir Jaffer is from July 18 to 20. The judge said the court did not have the transcription of what was said on the calls.
Justice Aamer Farooq inquired about the estimated time of Noor Mukadam’s murder. Shah Khawar told the court that the incident may have taken place between 7.30 pm and 7.30 pm. The court said that continuous calls were made after 7 pm and the time of death could be around 6.30 pm. According to the closed-circuit television footage, Noor Mukadam jumped out from the washroom’s window at 6:35 pm in an attempt to save her life, the counsel told the court. “That meant that Noor Mukadam was alive at that time,” the judge said.
The court inquired about the time and identity of the person who reported the incident to the police. The public prosecutor said that a citizen named Zubair reported to the police at 9:45 pm and a police team reached the crime scene at 10 pm. A team of Therapy Works was at the residence but their injured worker Amjad had been taken to the hospital, the public prosecutor said.
Shah Khawar said Zahir Jaffer was in constant touch with his parents on the day of the incident, adding that a challan has been presented in the trial court. The prosecution has listed 18 witnesses, including four key witnesses.
According to the evidence, the parents were in touch with the accused, Khawar told the court. He said it was a very heinous murder and accused Zakir Jaffer and Asmat Jaffer should not be granted bail.
The court inquired about the relationship between the Therapy Works and the petitioners. The public prosecutor said Asmat Zakir worked as a consultant at Therapy Works. He said Zakir Jaffer made two calls to Tahir Zahoor of Therapy Works after 7 pm. At 6:40 pm, watchman Iftikhar called Asmat Zakir, he added.
Police officials told the court Zahir Jaffer’s iPhone screen was broken but they have not found its password yet. Hearing that the phone has not been unlocked yet, the court remarked that the police should have unlocked the phone using the services of a hacker in the local cellphone market.
Counsel for the petitioners, Khawaja Harris said an incomplete interim challan has been submitted in the trial court. Nothing has been proved against his clients at this stage, he added. The accused cannot be deprived of the right of bail on the basis of rudimentary evidence, Khawaja Harris argued before the court.
Justice Aamer Farooq said Noor Mukadam’s murder trial will determine the course of future criminal cases in the country, adding that all are watching how circumstantial evidence is linked in the case. On completion of the arguments of the lawyers, the court reserved its judgment on the bail applications.