Slain Pakistani court official was to depose for suspended judge
May 15, 2007 - 2:06:06 PM

Islamabad, May 15 - The slain Pakistan Supreme Court official could have been a key witness in President Pervez Musharraf's references against suspended judge Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, pointing to a political murder, media reports said Tuesday.

Four men sneaked into the house of the apex court's Additional Registrar Hamad Raza Monday and shot him in what his wife alleged was 'target-killing.'

Munir Malik, one of the top lawyers spearheading the agitation supporting suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry, said Raza could have been a key defence witness in Chaudhry's case before the apex court.

The Supreme Court took suo motu notice of Raza's murder and summoned the Islamabad inspector general of police -, the DIG and the senior superintendents of police for operations and investigations.

Raza's widow Shabana claimed that her husband had been target-killed because the intruders had not touched anything in the house. 'They just came and shot him. He opened the door and they shot him and ran away,' she was quoted as saying in The Daily Times Tuesday.

Shabana Raza, 30, a British national, while talking to representatives of the British High Commission, who visited the house at her request, alleged that the government was responsible for the murder of her husband. Talking to judges of the Supreme Court, who visited the house to condole with the family, Shabana said, 'Killing of Raza is a message to the judiciary.'

Police were trying to twist the killing by terming it a dacoity attempt. 'Why the assailants gunned Raza when he didn't resist them?' she said as quoted by The News. 'If it was a dacoity bid why we were not looted?'

Raza was considered close to Chaudhry in that he was transferred from Balochistan at his instance. 'You called him to Islamabad. You should have protected him, and now my children need protection as well,' Shabana told Chaudhry when he visited Raza's house to offer his condolence.

She said that Raza was picked up twice by investigation agencies and interrogated. She said he was scared of the circumstances and usually used to express his fears before her and she always cheered him up.

Shabana alleged that the killers were able to escape even though a police vehicle was patrolling their neighbourhood at the time of the incident.

She said that Raza did not have enmity with any person and had not received threats from any person.

Acting Chief Justice Rana Bhagwandas, Justice Javed Iqbal, Justice Faqeer Muhammad Khokhar and other judges also visited Raza's house and condoled with his family.

Shalimar police station officials said four 'robbers' entered Raza's house and killed him when he resisted.

However, doctors at PIMS said Raza's body did not have any scar or wound, challenging the police's claim that Raza had resisted.

Islamabad IG Iftikhar Chaudhry said it was too early to say if the incident was a target killing.

An investigating officer said the police had not found any sign of resistance by Raza.

Waseem Khawaja, who conducted the post mortem of the victim, confirmed that the shot was fired from a distance less than 12 inches. Blackening and charring were found at the entry wound indicating that the shot was fired from a short distance, the doctor said, adding no mark of torture was found on his body.

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