Karachi ATC acquits Rao Anwar, others in Naqeebullah murder case.

An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Monday acquitted former Malir SSP Rao Anwar and 17 others in the Naqeebullah Mehsud murder case.

The brief verdict was announced by ATC XVI judge at the Karachi Central Prison, in which the court said that the prosecution had failed to submit sufficient evidence against Anwar and other accused persons.

Key developments:

Court says prosecution failed to submit sufficient evidence against Anwar, other accused

Anwar says 'fake allegations' against him have been proven wrong

Lawyer Jibran Nasir says Naqeeb's family to appeal judgement in high court

In the detailed verdict released later, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, the judge said: 'I am of the considered view that the prosecution since has failed to bring home guilt of the accused beyond any reasonable doubt and for giving benefit of doubt to an accused it is not necessary that there should be many circumstances creating doubt. One single circumstance leading towards the real doubt is sufficient to acquit the accused.'

The judge extended the benefit of doubt to the accused and acquitted them in the case.

The court took five years to conclude the trial of the murder, which had triggered widespread condemnation and debates on social media about fake encounters in Karachi, particularly by Rao Anwar.

The killing of Mehsud, an aspiring model from South Waziristan residing in Karachi, stormed social media with public outcry and sparked countrywide protests by civil society against the state's failure to arrest the former SSP and his team.

Anwar, along with his around two dozen subordinates, were charged with the killing of Naqeeb and three others after allegedly dubbing them militants linked to the 'Islamic State and Taliban' in a 'fake encounter' on Jan 13, 2018.

In March 2019, the court had indicted Anwar and his 17 subordinates for the killing four men on the outskirts of Karachi.

In November last year, the former SSP had recorded his statement, alleging that he had been framed in the case due to a 'departmental rivalry', but had failed to name any officer in the police department.

During the trial, the court recorded the testimonies of 51 witnesses - including the medico-legal, forensic and ballistics experts, nine private witnesses and police officials produced by the prosecution.

During today's hearing, the ATC judge noted the prosecution had failed to prove that the victims were kidnapped and murdered in a fake encounter by Rao Anwar and...

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