SC forms new JIT to investigate anchor’s claims about suspect in Zainab case

ISLAMABAD, Jan 28 (INP): The Supreme Court on Sunday formed a new joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the claims made by television anchor Dr Shahid Masood about the suspect in Zainab Amin’s rape and murder case.

Chief Justice Mian Saqib Nisar gave the order for the JIT while presiding over the three-member apex bench conducting a suo motu hearing into the Zainab case at the SC’s Lahore registry.

The chief justice ordered Masood, who was present in court, to appear before the newly formed JIT — which will be led by director general of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), Bashir Ahmed — and present evidence to back his claims.

The anchorperson had claimed during a late night show that Zainab’s suspected rapist and murderer was a member of a pornography gang, which also includes a Punjab minister. During the previous hearing of the case, Masood had also told the court that the suspect has 37 foreign accounts.

His claims about the bank accounts, however, were rejected by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) in its report to the JIT that was formed earlier by the Punjab government to probe the rape and murder of Zainab.

“Do not talk about unrelated matters; give us proof of the bank accounts,” the chief justice told the anchor on Sunday. “If the statements you have made turn out to be true, we will give you the medal for number one journalist.”

“If your news turns out to be untrue, [then] you cannot even imagine what will happen,” the chief justice warned.

During the hearing, the court barred Muhammad Amin ? the father of six-year-old Zainab ? and his lawyer from holding further press conferences.

Zainab’s parents had arrived at the SC shortly before the bench began the hearing. Punjab Inspector General of Police Arif Nawaz Khan, head of the joint investigation team probing Zainab’s murder, Additional IG Abu Bakar Khuda Bakhsh, and chief secretary of Punjab, Khizer Hayat, are also present in the court.

The court, on Saturday, also summoned 12 media executives and anchors to appear for today’s hearing. Although the court notice does not say why they were called in, legal observers believe that the invitation has something to do with the claims made recently by Masood.

Shortly after Zainab’s autopsy confirmed that she had been strangled to death, Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had taken suo motu notice of the incident that had sent shock waves throughout the nation.

The Punjab government, in a press conference on Tuesday, had announced catching the alleged rapist and murderer. The suspect, based in Kasur, is accused of being a serial rapist and killer who has been linked to the assault and murder of more than at least six young girls.