Monday, March 13, 2023

Noor Mukadam murder: IHC upholds Zahir Jaffer’s death penalty

Two-judge bench turns his life imprisonment into capital punishment

Pakistani-American Zahir Jaffer, the main convict in the Noor Muqaddam murder case, arrives in court in Islamabad. — AFP/File
Pakistani-American Zahir Jaffer, the main convict in the Noor Muqaddam murder case, arrives in court in Islamabad. — AFP/File

  • Mukadam’s father had moved court seeking to enhance Jaffer sentence.
  • Two-member IHC bench issues verdict reserved on Dec 21.
  • Jaffer and co-accused had challenged their sentences.

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday upheld the death sentence awarded to Zahir Jaffer in the Noor Mukadam murder case by the trial court and turned his life imprisonment into capital punishment.

A two-member bench of the divisional bench, comprising Chief Justice Aamer Farooq and Justice Sardar Ejaz Ishaq Khan, issued the verdict which was reserved December 21 on appeals filed against the punishment awarded to the convicts and acquittal of co-accused for the brutal murder of the 27-year-old woman.

The court’s decision for the double death sentence came following Jaffer’s crime for Noor’s rape and murder. He earlier received a 25-year imprisonment sentence with hard labour and a fine of Rs0.2 million after the rape was proven.

The IHC reserved a verdict on December 21 last year in the high-profile murder case in which the prime accused, Jaffer, was sentenced to death after a long-drawn-out trial of over four months.

The trial court awarded a death sentence to Jaffer last February, while the two suspects Jan Muhammad and Muhammad Iftikhar — the gardener and security guard at Jaffer's house — were awarded 10 years of imprisonment each.

Other suspects in the case including Jaffer's parents, Zakir Jaffer and Ismat Adamjee, along with all employees of Therapy Works were acquitted by the court.

The convict also received a 25-year imprisonment sentence with hard labour and a fine of Rs0.2 million. Jaffer was also awarded a 10-year imprisonment sentence for the abduction and an additional one-year for keeping the victim in illegal confinement.

Before reserving its judgement in the case, the court remarked the lawyers of the parties were allowed to submit their additional arguments on the pleas within seven days.

The verdict was reserved after hearing the arguments from parties in separate pleas against the death sentence handed out to Jaffer, and the acquittal of convicts and accused — filed by Noor’s father.

The case 

Twenty-seven-year-old Noor was found dead at the residence of the prime suspect, Jaffer, in Islamabad's upscale Sector F-7/4 on July 20, 2021.

The gruesome murder sent shockwaves across the country and sparked nationwide outrage and calls for justice for Noor which resulted in the successful trial and eventual conviction of her murderer.

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 — former Pakistani ambassador Shaukat Ali Mukadam — 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, 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 of the gruesome murder continued for four months and eight days. The trial court finally reached a decision in the high-profile case after multiple twists and deferrals on February 24.