By: Rana Tanveer
LAHORE: The husband of Samia Shahid, a British woman who was raped and killed in the name of honour in Jhelum, has requested the Lahore High Court (LHC) to transfer the case of his wife’s murder to Lahore owing to security concerns.
Samia, a 28-year-old beautician from Bradford, died in July while on a visit to Pakistan, supposedly to visit family members in the village of Pandori. Her family initially said she had suffered a heart attack but a post-mortem examination confirmed she died of asphyxiation.
Her second husband, Syed Mukhtar Kazim, claims his wife was a victim of an ‘honour killing’ as her family did not approve of their marriage.
Kazim lodged the FIR of Samia’s rape and murder on July 23 under sections 302, 34 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code at Mangla police station, Jhelum. The charge-sheet against the prime suspects, the girl’s father and former husband, has been submitted before Jhelum Additional Sessions Judge Ambreen Qureshi.
Muhammad Shakeel is accused of murdering the British beautician, while her father Chaudhry Muhammad Shahid is being held as an accessory to murder. Both men are on judicial remand ahead of their next appearance on October 20.
Now Kazim, who has fled the country since, has filed a petition in the LHC, claiming the life of witnesses, including himself, was at risk at the hands of influential relatives of the victim, who have been threatening them with dire consequences.
Kazim’s counsel Malik Awais Khalid has submitted the Joint Investigation Team investigating the murder had also recommended the case be transferred to Lahore.
The JIT report while recommending the case be shifted to Lahore termed the case an ‘honour killing’, asking the government should direct the prosecution to closely monitor the case and try its best to obtain a conviction of the accused.
The JIT made these recommendations in light of the fact that the accused enjoyed a substantial influence within Jhelum and had almost got away with murder in collaboration with the local SHO. A trial in Lahore would enable the prosecution to supervise the proceedings closely and would also suffice well for the security of the complainant, the JIT report added.
In the petition, Advocate Awais stated the atmosphere in Jhelum was not congenial for the trial as his client and other witnesses were under a constant threat and the prosecution believed it would not get justice from the trial court.
He said if the trial was held in Lahore, the prosecution would be in a much better position to supervise trial proceedings closely and evidence be recorded without any undue influence in a free and fair atmosphere.
The petitioner has requested the court to transfer the trial from Jhelum to Lahore in the interest of justice, fairness and equity.
A day earlier, the LHC registrar had objected to the petition but the plaintiff insisted on fixing the case before the court to decide if it was maintainable or not.
On Monday, Justice Abdul Sami Khan heard the plea and overruled the objection. LHC Chief Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah will hear the case on October 17.