SHC admits appeals against Baldia factory fire verdict for hearing

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court (SHC) on Monday admitted for hearing appeals of five convicts, including two MQM workers, challenging their sentences in the Baldia factory fire case.

A two-judge bench of the SHC issued a notice to the Prosecutor General and sought the complete record of the case from the Anti Terrorism Court (ATC) that handed down the September 22 verdict sentencing Zubair aka Chariya and Abdul Rehman aka Bhola to death for their role in the deaths of over 260 people in the 2012 Baldia factory fire.

Other convicts who filed the appeals are Fazal Ahmed, Hakeem and Arshad Mahmood. The appellants stated in their pleas that the ATC ignored key evidence while deciding the case. Zubair and Rehman blamed the factory owners for the fire saying the factory doors were closed when the fire broke out on the orders of the owners.

On September 22, the ATC had convicted MQM’s Bhola and Chariya on eleven counts, handing each of them death sentences on two counts, life sentences on four counts, 10-year prison term on two counts as well as imprisonment of seven, three and two years on three counts.

The factory’s four employees – Shahrukh, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood and Ali Mohammad – were found guilty of aiding the convicts in carrying out the arson attack that resulted in the deaths of 264 people and injuries to 60 others and were sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for life on two counts, along with a fine of Rs0.2 million on each count.  They were also directed to pay Rs27,77,353 as diyat to each of the victims’ heirs.

However, the court exonerated MQM leader Rauf Siddiqui, the then-provincial minister for commerce and industries, and three others from all charges for want of evidence.