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Noor murder primary accused stages another drama?

Zahir Jaffer carried to court on chair as his ‘mental health has worsened’

Policemen carried Zahir Jaffer, primary accused in the Noor Mukadam murder case, on a chair to the courtroom from the bakshi khana – a temporary lockup in the district courts for under-trial prisoners – during the hearing in an Islamabad district and sessions court on Monday, with his lawyer contending that his mental condition had “worsened”.

Junior lawyer Usman Riaz Gul was representing Zahir during the proceedings as the counsel for the accused, Advocate Sikandar Zulqarnain Saleem, did not appear before the court. He later joined the hearing via video link.

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Prior to his joining, Gul drew the court’s attention to Zahir’s absence from the hearing. “I have stated thrice that primary accused Zahir Jaffer has not been produced [before the court].”

When the judge also took notice of Zahir’s absence, Akram Qureshi – counsel for Therapy Works owner Tahir Zahoor, a co-accused in the case – informed him that Zahir was not in a condition to be able to walk. At that, judge Rabbani remarked that he had written a letter to the jail authorities, directing them to get Zahir’s medical check-up done.

Eventually, Zahir, who was seen sitting hunched over in a chair, was carried to the courtroom by policemen. “The mental condition of the accused has worsened,” said Gul, upon Zahir’s arrival. Following that, Zahir was taken back to the bakhshi khana.

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Meanwhile, back in the courtroom, Gul said the judge’s directives issued at the previous hearing had not been implemented and that was why the court was being moved again on the matter. The judge, however, did not respond to the request.

An application seeking the formation of a medical board to determine the state of Zahir’s mental health has already been dismissed by the court, which observed in its written order on the matter that the plea had been raised “just to get rid of criminal liability”.

The order, issued on January 6, stated that the plea was filed when the trial was nearing its end and the matter had not been raised before the court earlier. “Facts and attending circumstances reveal that the accused is not suffering from mental illness [and] such afterthought plea has been raised just to get rid of criminal liability,” the order read.

Zahir’s counsel, Advocate Saleem, joined the hearing later via video link, after the court rebuked junior lawyer Gul over the advocate’s absence.

He cross-examined Shaukat Ali Mukadam, the father of slain Noor Mukadam and the complainant in the case. When asked whether Noor was at home when they had left on July 19 last year, a day before Noor was found murdered at Zahir Jaffer’s residence, Shaukat replied, “When we left our house, we believed that she was at home, but she was not.”

Answering subsequent questions, he shared that Noor had called her mother and informed that she was going to Lahore with her friends. He was also asked about the couple’s relationship, to which he said that the two were university students and he had never stopped them from seeing each other. The lawyers of other accused requested the court to drop the ‘inappropriate’ question, which the court later allowed and adjourned the hearing until January 20.


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