The Pakistan's military appellate court has upheld the death sentences of five convicts in the Safoora Goth carnage and Sabeen Mahmud murder cases.

Pakistani military court upheld death sentences of five anti-Shia terrorists

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - The Pakistan's military appellate court has upheld the death sentences of five convicts in the Safoora Goth carnage and Sabeen Mahmud murder cases.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on May 12 had announced the confirmation of the death sentences to the five ‘hardcore terrorists’ - Tahir Minhas, Saad Aziz, Asadur Rehman, Mohammad Azhar Ishrat and Hafiz Nasir Ahmed - in nine cases of terrorism, including the Safoora Goth carnage and the Sabeen Mahmud murder cases.
The convicts had challenged the death sentences in the military appellate court in June through their counsel, Hashmat Ali Habib.
In a letter dated August 15, the judge advocate general department of the army informed the superintendent of the Central Prison Karachi about the dismissal of the appeals filed by the convicts.
The letter said: “The Court of Appeal has rejected the subject appeal on July 25, 2016. The appellant may also be communicated accordingly.”
The defence counsel, however, said he would file a petition with the high court against the decision of the military appellate court.
As per the prosecution, Minhas was the mastermind of the Safoora Goth carnage in which 47 members of the Shia Ismaili community were martyred in an attack on their bus in Karachi on May 13, 2015.
The federal government in March this year transferred the cases to the military courts established under the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.
According to the investigation, Minhas killed the Ismaili community members to impress the leadership of the militant of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group and secure an important position for himself in the terrorist network.
The investigation claimed that Minhas operated his own network of local terrorists but was fed up with divisions in the Taliban groups and wanted to join the IS. For this purpose, he developed contacts with the local leadership of the IS. His brother-in-law Umer alias Jalal was also operating a group of Al Qaeda network in Karachi. Minhas advised Jalal to join the IS but he refused, saying he had sworn allegiance in the hand of Osama bin Laden.
The investigation report claimed that in 2014 and early 2015, Saad Aziz and others planned wall chalking for IS in different areas of Karachi.
In 2002, Saad Aziz had gone to Afghanistan via Balochistan to get three-month training there. During his stay in Afghanistan, he met the top Al Qaeda leadership, including Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Yahya and Hamza al-Misri in the Helmand province.
Minhas told the investigation team that since 2011 Jalal had been providing funds to him and his associates.
He said Jalal paid Rs30,000 to each of them on a monthly basis. He said Jalal received funding from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. He was responsible for bringing members of the Al Qaeda network from their countries to Pakistan, sending them to Afghanistan and then back to their countries.
When they returned to their countries, Al Qaeda members paid hefty amounts to Jalal. He was fluent in Arabic and was in direct contact with Arab operatives of Al Qaeda.
The convicts, however, denied the charges. In their appeals, they contended that the federal government did not transfer their cases to the military court in accordance with the procedure defined in the Protection of Pakistan Act.
The appeals alleged that the military authorities did not provide the accused an opportunity to engage lawyers of their choice and that the proceedings were against the spirit of Article 10-A of the Constitution, which ensured fair trial.
Rejecting the reports of the joint investigation teams on the Safoora Goth carnage and the Sabeen Mahmud murder, the appeals alleged that “the court proceeding was based on a concocted story.”