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Demand for transfer of rape case to Karachi

KARACHI, June 6: Members of civil society on Friday urged the relevant authorities to refer the Kainat Soomro gang-rape case, which had been transferred to Dadu, back to Karachi.

Speaking at a press conference held at the Karachi Press Club, representatives of various civil society organisations said that since the accused in the case were quite influential, the rape victim and her poor family members fearing for their lives had left Dadu and were currently residing in Karachi.

The press conference was jointly organised by the War Against Rape, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Women Action Forum and Aurat Foundation. They said that in such a life-threatening situation, it was impossible for these poor people to attend the hearings in the case in a Dadu court.

The girl and her family members fearing for their lives had left their Dadu home for Karachi and had subsequently, approached the Sindh High Court to get the case transferred to a court in Karachi. The then chief justice of the Sindh High Court, Justice Sabihuddin Ahmad, had transferred the case that was to be heard by the District Judge, South, Arjun Das.

They said that the judge pointing out that the case had been registered under the Hudood Ordinance requested the SHC that it be transferred to some other court so that it could be heard by a Muslim judge.

Justice Mohammad Afzal Soomro of the SHC, instead of referring the case to some other court in the city, transferred the case back to Dadu.

They feared that if the case was not transferred back to the city, the accused would get indirect benefit as the victim and her family, owing to the threat to their lives, would not be able to proceed further in the case in Dadu court. In such a situation, they added, the accused might get acquitted.

They said that they had also approached the Supreme Court for the transfer of the case back to Karachi.

The members of civil society informed the newsmen that they had also sent a complaint to the Supreme Judicial Council against Justice Soomro for transferring the case to Dadu without any plea in this regard either from the victim or those nominated as accused in the case.

They also called for a stern action against those who were extending threats to the rape victim and her family for the withdrawal of the case against the accused. They also urged the relevant authorities to provide the girl and her family members with adequate security on behalf of the state to ensure their safety.

Sarah Zaman, advocate Javed I. Burqi, Nasrin Siddiqui, Khalida Farooqui and others also spoke.
Source: Dawn
Date:6/7/2008

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