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Pakistani paramilitary sentenced to hang for Karachi killing

Reuters/Akhtar Soomro

An anti-terrorism court in Karachi has sentenced a paramilitary soldier to death for the killing of an unarmed man. The shooting of 22-year-old Sarfaraz Shah at point-blank range was captured on film and caused uproar in Pakistan when broadcast on television.

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The verdict is the first-ever death sentence passed by a Pakistani court on a serving member of the military, according to lawyers.

Shahid Zafar, a member of the Rangers force which comes under the interior ministry but is considered to be part of the armed forces, was found guilty of pulling the trigger and sentenced to death and a 200,000-rupee (1,600-euro) fine.

Five other Rangers were jailed for life, as was the civilian who accused Shah of robbery and dragged him over to them. They each have to pay 100,000 rupees to the victim’s family.

The widely aired footage of the killing showed a cleanshaven and unarmed Shah pleading for his life before he is shot twice. He then begs for help while the soldiers  watch him lose consciousness.

"The decision is historic, it shows no one is above the law," government prosecutor Mohammed Khan Buriro told reporters.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik earlier said that the victim had been carrying an unlicenced weapon but no evidence of the claim was found.

The case focused attention on arbitrary violence by the military in Pakistan.

Dossier: AfPak news and analysis

More than 100,000 paramilitaries are on duty in Karachi, a 16-million population port city that is racked by ethnic, political and Islamist violence.

Rights campaigners point out that they were formed for combat and border duty and are not trained to work in civilian areas.

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