Thursday, February 24, 2022
ISLAMABAD: A local court in Islamabad has sentenced Zahir Jaffer to death for the murder of Noor Mukadam after a long-drawn trial of over four months.
The verdict was announced by district and sessions court judge Justice Atta Rabbani. Co-accused Jan Muhammad and Muhammad Iftikhar, the gardener and security guard at Zahir's house, have been sentenced to 10 years in prison each.
Zahir's mother Asmat Adamjee, father Zakir Jaffer and cook Jamil have been acquitted, along with all employees of Therapy Works.
The verdict had been reserved after the completion of arguments by the prosecution and defence earlier this week.
Following multiple twists and deferrals, the trial court had finally reached a decision in the high-profile case after the counsel representing Noor's father completed his arguments at Tuesday's hearing.
The trial of the gruesome murder continued for four months and eight days.
Shortly after the verdict was out, Noor's father Shaukat Mukadam said a favourable court decision was critical. He said he repeatedly said that this case was not only about his daughter, but was a question of all the daughters of Pakistan.
Shaukat said that he was expecting a favourable decision and that he is glad that the court took the right decision. However, he denied commenting on the suspects who have been acquitted.
Noor’s father said that he was not contacted by anybody regarding a patch-up and even if somebody contacts him now, he will not agree to it.
Replying to a question regarding media trials and support from society, he said that the world was standing with them and his family did not need to put in much effort to highlight Noor's case.
Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry and PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz also reacted to the court's decision in the case.
Taking to Twitter, Fawad lauded the police and prosecution for leading the case to a fair conclusion.
"This is the justice that the Pakistani people expect [...] hope that the institutions affiliated with law and justice will meet their expectations and the rule of law will prevail," he wrote.
"The wounds Noor Mukadam’s rape and murder inflicted on the collective conscience of humanity may never heal but it is reassuring that beasts in human disguise will realise that consequences can be grave," Maryam wrote on Twitter.
She said that Zahir's crimes were not only confined to rape and murder but also to the fact that he used his money and influence to assail the credibility of the victim.
"This perhaps is the only crime where the victim becomes the accused," she added.
Speaking to journalists, ahead of the verdict's announcement, Shaukat Mukaddam had said that everyone is hopeful that Noor will get justice.
"The murderer and his accomplices will get punishment and rule of law will prevail," he said.
"I pray that the decision of Noor Mukadam murder case is based on justice."
Twenty-seven-year-old Noor was found dead at the residence of the prime suspect, Zahir Jaffer, in Islamabad's upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20, 2021.
After a first information report (FIR) was registered under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on behalf of Noor's father, Zahir was arrested with a murder weapon and bloodstained clothes from the crime scene on the day of the killing.
According to Noor's father, former Pakistani ambassador Shaukat Ali Mukadam, Zahir killed Noor with a sharp instrument and severed her head.
As the police went deeper into investigations, Zahir's parents were found involved in concealing evidence and assisting their son in the crime. Both Zahir's mother and father were arrested on July 25, 2021.
However, the couple was later granted bail on separate occasions as they reached out to higher courts for release on bail.
Moreover, six employees of Therapy Works, a leading therapy and drug rehabilitation centre in Islamabad, were also arrested.
The organisation came under scrutiny after it was revealed that Zahir Jaffer, had himself been associated with Therapy Works.
Moreover, Zahir was sent on judicial and physical remands multiple times for interrogations before the trial started.
The trial officially kicked off on October 20, 2021, when Zahir was formally charged for the crime by an Islamabad court. Besides him, two of the family's employees — Jamil and Jan Mohammad — were also indicted, along with Zahoor.
The trial comprised 25 hearings in total, while Zahir tried to prove himself mentally ill throughout the trial.
However, the trial court declared him physically and mentally fit.
Later, a meeting headed by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Islamabad Mohammad Ahsan Younus on January 25, also confirmed that strong and sufficient evidence was collected against Zahir, according to which Noor was raped before she was killed.
The case took a new turn on February 10, when Zahir pleaded not guilty to the crime, Geo News reported.
On behalf of the main accused, his lawyer submitted his client’s defence in the case in a questionnaire given by the court.
Zahir told the court that he was in a "relationship" with the victim for a long time and both the families also knew each other. However, he clarified that he was “not in touch with Noor for six months."
“On July 18, she voluntarily came to my house with a huge quantity of drugs. Noor told me to host a drug party and I refused,” said Zahir.
The accused then claimed before the court that on July 20 the victim invited her friends to the said party. He added he was alone at home at the time, as his parents and other family members were in Karachi for Eid celebrations.
“A few hours later when I woke up, I found myself tied in my lounge,” said Jaffer, adding that after a few minutes, uniformed police and people in civil clothes “rescued” him.
“When I was rescued, I got to know that Noor was murdered by someone attending the drug party or someone else murdered her,” said Jaffer.
He also claimed that the victim’s father is an “influential” person and got him involved in the case by pressurising the police.