RAWALPINDI:(APS) Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Thursday approved death sentences of seven “hardcore terrorists” involved in the massacre at Peshawar’s Army Public School and an attack on soldiers of Sindh Rangers at Karachi’s Safoora Chowk, a statement released by the army’s media wing said.
This is the first approval of death sentences by the army chief following Supreme Court’s recent judgment giving legal cover to the establishment of military courts in the country.
The convicts, however, have the right to appeal, said the statement from the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR).
One terrorist has also been awarded life imprisonment, said the ISPR.
Political parties had unanimously agreed over the issue of setting up military courts to tackle terrorism cases in the country following the gruesome attack on the Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014, following which the Parliament passed the 21st constitutional amendment to set up the said courts.
President Mamnoon Hussain had promulgated an ordinance further revising the recently amended Army Act to ostensibly aid the functioning of military courts by allowing for trials in camera, i.e without the presence of the public or the media, and over video link if necessary.
But the constitutional amendment giving legal cover to military courts was challenged in the Supreme Court, which upheld the Parliament’s sovereignty and allowed military courts to try and sentence hardened terrorists.
The apex court did however keep the power to review sentences in certain cases, where it feels the condition of fair trial is not met.
Recently, following the SC’s ruling, the father of a death-row convict Haider Ali, who received the sentence from a military court, challenged the ruling in the Supreme Court.