Monday, September 5, 2016

Yet another voice on the Khan decision in Pakistan

Faisal Siddiqi asks in this op-ed whether the trials underlying the Khan courts-martial were as "perfect" as they seem:
An examination of the record of the trial proceedings of the court martial of these 16 persons, all of whom have been given the death sentence, is revealing, perhaps unique in the annals of criminal jurisprudence. Uniquely, the trial record of the 16 in its key aspects is remarkably identical — perhaps cyclostyle is the right word.

First, all 16 persons voluntarily pleaded guilty not once but twice.

Second, all made judicial confessions before a judicial magistrate and none of them retracted their confessions later.

Third, none of the 16 persons wanted a civil defense lawyer of their choice and preferred to be defended by a defending officer of the armed forces. This is especially surprising considering that they hired lawyers to file petitions before the high court and appeals before the Supreme Court challenging the court martial judgement.

Fourth, the 16 persons did not object to the jurisdiction or members of the court martial.

Fifth, all declined to produce any evidence in their defense.

Either this is an example of the "miracles" of military justice or there is a more earthly reason for such perfect convictions. Presuming the trial record is correct, the main reason for such harmonious military trials, with the accused persons agreeing to everything and anything, is the atmosphere of coercion — during the trials, the accused persons are in the custody of the military or intelligence and their trials are basically secret). This is obvious from the fact that the relatives of the 16 persons (without exception) found out about the court martial proceedings only after the death sentence was awarded and mainly through newspapers; one family received the news via an anonymous caller.
He suggests that military officers who have seen their comrades die may be in no position to dispense impartial justice, but rather may be bent on revenge.

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