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LHC sets aside death sentence handed to PML-N MNA Abid Raza, 3 others in murder case

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LAHORE : The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday acquitted PML-N MNA Chaudhry Abid Raza and three others in a murder case.

A two-member bench of LHC comprising Justice Sardar Shamim Ahmad and Justice Shehbaz Rizvi was hearing the case.

A trial court had sentenced Raza in 1999 under Section 302 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) for murdering six people. The conviction was challenged before the LHC but was dismissed when both parties reached a compromise. The death sentence was revoked in 2003 by a division bench.

In 2016, the Supreme Court suspended the 2003 judgement and referred the case to the LHC.

Last month, the LHC bench that was hearing the case, had appointed a criminal law expert as amicus curiae (friend of court) to decide whether an offence under Section 7 of the ATA was compoundable (reconcilable).

During today’s hearing, the MNA’s lawyer had argued that Raza was acquitted after an agreement with the complainant. The state lawyer, however, said that a compromise deed did not hold in a terrorism case and urged the court to reinstate the trial court’s verdict that was issued in 1999.

Previously, the counsel for MNA and other convicts had claimed that Section 7 of the ATA was not added in the case. They argued that the high court would have to hear the appeal against the conviction on merits if it maintained death penalty under the special law.

The counsel had further said that the omission from conviction under section 7 of ATA in the 2003 decision was on part of the court and the acquitted convicts could not be punished for that error.

The bench, in its ruling today, suspended the trial court’s decision in its verdict and acquitted four people, including Raza, MNA from NA-71 (Gujrat).

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