Victims’ families refuse to attend court martial
‘Trial Won’t Be Fair; Prosecution And Defense Counsel Belong To Army’
Islamabad (Anantnag), Sep 19: Apprehensive of transparency in the court martial proceedings, the families of the five civilians killed in Pathribal fake encounter have decided not to participate in the trial to be conducted in Nagrota on Thursday.
The Army had earlier this month summoned the families to depose as witnesses in court martial at 16 Corps Headquarters in Nagrota, Jammu, on September 20. The Army had also issued summons to Faqirullah Khan and Amirullah Khan, fathers of two victims.
Interestingly, both have died even before the Pathribal fake encounter took place.
The families of the victims, however, say that they have decided to opt out of the court martial proceedings citing lack of transparency as the reason.
“We have decided not to participate in the court martial proceedings as there is no transparency in the process,” said Rashid Khan S/O Jumma Khan, one of the victims of Brari Aangan village.
“We don’t know what to depose before the court martial as what we know is that the Army picked up my father in the dead of the night and later killed him in the nearby Pathribal village in a stage managed encounter,” said Rashid.
Rashid, who has been vigorously following the case, has not been summoned by the Army and instead his old and ailing mother has been asked to depose as witness before the court martial.
“My mother Roshan Jan is old and is suffering from multiple ailments. How is it possible for her to travel to Jammu and remain there till the proceedings are over?” Rashid asked.
He said that her mother can’t understand any other language other than Gojri. “How can you expect justice from the same men who are themselves the perpetrators of the crime,” said Rashid.
The families of the victims are demanding venue of the court martial to be shifted to Valley and also a counsel to plead their case.
“The venue of the court martial should have been in the Valley itself as it would have been convenient for us,” said Shakoor Khan S/O Jumma Khan, other victim of the same name.
Shakoor’s mother Noori who also is old and ailing has also been summoned as witness.
He said that as most of them won’t be comfortable with the language of Army so state should provide them the counsel of their choice who can translate their statements.
The summoned family members of other three victims- Zahoor Dalal of Moomin Abad, Islamabad; Bashir Ahmad Bhat of Kapran and Muhammad Yousuf Malik of Kapran- have also decided not to participate in the court martial proceedings.
“The irony in the court martial proceeding is that the prosecution as well as the defense counsel belongs to the Army. So the families are apprehensive that Army may shield its own men,” said a leading criminal lawyer of Islamabad District Court, Advocate Muneer-u-din Shawl.
APEX COURT OBSERVATIONS:
In January this year, Army told the Supreme Court that it will not take over the case of its officers involved in the fake encounter from the civil court.
The Army said the initiation of proceedings without Central Government’s permission is illegal in view of AFSPA. The Supreme Court criticized the Army for its stand regarding the issue, saying that neither is it willing to take over the case nor is it allowing a civil court trial.
“Nothing has been happening for the last 10 years regarding the case. Victims have not been able to get justice,” the Supreme Court observed.
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also criticized the Army stating that it has been trying to bury the case.
On March 19, CBI told the Supreme Court that the Pathribal encounter was in fact a “cold blooded murder” and that the guilty officers deserve to be meted out exemplary punishment.
On May 1, the Supreme Court had given the Army eight weeks to decide whether the accused should be tried by a regular criminal court or face a court martial. The ruling had disappointed rights groups fighting to have the soldiers tried in a criminal court.
On June 29, the Army decided to opt for court martial to try five officers accused of killing five civilians in Pathribal fake encounter in March 2000 and subsequently the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Srinagar (designated CBI court) transferred the whole record of the case to Army authorities for initiating proceedings against the accused army men under the Army Act.
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 19 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 20 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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