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Hitman who killed Wali Babar acquitted of illegal gun possession charge

An anti-terrorism court on Thursday acquitted a hitman who killed journalist Wali Babar of charges that he possessed an illicit weapon and explosive material.

Kamran alias Zeeshan Shani was arrested in June by police from his hideout in Gulshan-e-Maymar, nine years after he was awarded the death sentence in absentia by an ATC in Kandhkot for murdering the Geo News reporter.

Following his arrest in a raid, the police had booked him in another case for possessing an unlicensed weapon and explosive material, which had been allegedly found on him during the raid.

The prosecution, however, could not prove this claim in the court because of which the ATC-XV judge acquitted the accused of the charge, observing that he was being given the benefit of the doubt.

Babar was gunned down in the Liaquatabad area of Karachi on January 13, 2011, when he was returning home from the office. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, “Babar was shot shortly after his story on gang violence aired on the country’s most widely watched broadcaster, Geo TV.”

After a strenuous trial involving death threats, the Kandhkot anti-terrorism court in March 2014 had found Kamran and his accomplice Faisal Mehmood alias Mota guilty of the murder, in absentia, and had awarded them capital punishment. Both of them were declared proclaimed absconders.

Faisal was later arrested from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement headquarters, Nine Zero, during a raid conducted by Rangers in March 2015. Memon said that till 2015, four accused had received life imprisonment in the case.

According to Karachi police chief Ghulam Nabi Memon, Kamran was still at large and kept changing his hideouts and finally one morning, on a tip-off from a federal intelligence agency, police’s Special Investigation Unit apprehended him with weapons.

Four witnesses in the journalist’s murder case, including star witness Haider Ali whose testimony led to the conviction, were killed during the years 2011-2012, while advocate Naimat Ali Randhawa was murdered in September 2013 at the time when he was acting as a special public prosecutor in the case.

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