Home / Gender Based Violence / Sindh High Court (SHC) sets aside life term of two in minor girl’s rape, murder case
Sindh High Court (SHC) sets aside life term of two in minor girl’s rape, murder case

Sindh High Court (SHC) sets aside life term of two in minor girl’s rape, murder case

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has set aside life imprisonment handed down to two men by a sessions court on charges of rape and murder of a five-year-old girl.

A single-judge SHC bench comprising Justice Omar Sial acquitted the appellants Ghulam Haider and Muhammad Salah by extending them benefit of the doubt.

A sessions court had in November 2017 sentenced Ghulam Haider and Muhammad Salah to life in prison in November 2017 for murdering the girl after subjecting her to rape in October 2010 in a Gulistan-i-Jauhar locality.

According to the prosecution, both the accused persons were employees of the victim’s father who was associated with cattle business.

The appellants, through their counsel, had challenged the conviction order of the trial court before the SHC and after hearing both sides and examining the record and proceedings of the case the bench allowed their appeals.

The bench in its judgement observed that the case of prosecution was mainly based on evidence of two witnesses, who said to have seen the appellants with the victim before the incident. However, the bench noted that it seemed to be a coincidence that both eyewitnesses had seen the victim in the company of the appellants and had gone to Larkana soon after. Later, they returned the same day and informed the complainant about what they had seen.

It further observed that both the witnesses did not sound credible as one claimed he was going to his native village when he saw the girl with the accused while the other said that though he lived and worked in Larkana, he was in Karachi for his day off and saw the girl with the appellants.

They were both chance witnesses and the absence of any witness from the neighbourhood who might have seen the girl and the accused together meant that the testimony of the two witnesses needed to be treated with great care and caution, it added.

About the medical evidence, the bench further noted that initially, police had recorded that death was a consequence of drowning and did not explain before the trial court as to how it was determined that the victim had been raped and murdered when the body was brought to the doctor while medico-legal officer (MLO) had noticed that the body was in an advanced stage of decomposition, but that there were no obvious marks of injury.

“The MLO also opined that she was not in a position to ascertain the cause of death while she also did not conclude that the deceased had been raped prior to death and in essence, the medical report did not conclusively support the prosecution case,” it added.

“She seems to have based her findings on the DNA report that showed that the DNA had matched the DNA of the accused. As mentioned above, that finding in itself does not appear clear of doubt,” the bench stated.

“I am not convinced that the 2 witnesses did not record their statements as an afterthought; the cause of death was not ascertained; whether rape occurred or not was also doubtful; collection, preservation and transport of samples for DNA purposes left plenty of room for contamination as well as doubt as to whether 53 days after the incident, semen could be detected in a vaginal swab taken from a thoroughly decomposed body that had been lying in a pond of dirty water for some days,” it noted.

Source: Dawn

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