Conflict & Justice

Pakistani soldier sentenced to death for civilian murder caught on tape


Pakistani paramilitary soldier Shahid Zafar, who shot unarmed youth Sarfaraz Shah at point blank range on June 8, is escorted to court in Karachi on August 12, 2011.



Pakistan on Friday sentenced a paramilitary soldier to death for the murder of an unarmed man that was caught on camera, sparking public outrage.

Shahid Zafar shot dead 22-year-old Sarfaraz Shah at point-blank range in a public park in Karachi on June 8.

The video shows the victim being dragged by his hair, before being shot twice. He then begs for help before losing consciousness.

Shah's family denied claims by the Pakistan Rangers paramilitary force that Shah had been caught trying to rob someone.

Friday's decision marks the first time a serving member of Pakistan's military has been sentenced to death by a civilian court.

The BBC reports that Karachi's anti-terrorism court also fined Zafar 200,000 rupees ($2300), and sentenced six other men to life imprisonment.

The six included five paramilitaries and a civilian, who were each ordered to pay 100,000 rupees in compensation to the victim's family. A lawyer for the defendants said they would appeal.

Following the ruling, Shah's brother, Salik, said:

We are satisfied with the punishment and we hope that the higher courts will also keep them and overturn the appeals of the accused.

Extreme public reaction to Shah's killing led the Pakistani government to remove the provincial chiefs of police and Rangers in Karachi, Agence France Presse reported.

Meanwhile Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik, whose ministry is responsible for the Rangers, earlier claimed that Shah had been carrying an unlicensed weapon.