In a first, ailing witness testifies via video link in murder caseArchive
KARACHI: In a first, a model court on Saturday used videoconferencing technology to record the testimony of a 90-year-old witness who could not appear before the court due to her illness in a murder-cum-robbery case.
The key witness, Roshan Harmozji, rightly picked the accused persons Manooj Kumar and Hina when they were brought before the camera attached with the video link. The accused have been charged with murdering Hina’s husband, Rajeshwar, and committing an armed robbery at Ms Harmozji’s house in Clifton in 2010.
With this video-link arrangement, Karachi’s district south model court became the first model criminal trial court in Sindh to have used the e-court system to record testimony of an ailing witness at prosecution’s request.
The model courts had been established in March in each judicial district of Sindh for timely disposal of old murder and narcotics cases.
At the previous hearing, Judge Kamran Atta Soomro allowed an application filed by the state prosecutor Mohammad Arif Sitai and directed relevant officials to make arrangements for recording statement of the witness from her house using the video-link system.
Ms Harmozji deposed that Rajeshwar and his wife Hina used to work at her house three to four years before the incident.
She testified that the police had recorded her statement at the police station and also visited her house once and she had signed some documents.
The ageing witness said she had not levelled any allegation against the female accused Hina in her initial statement nor had she named any other witness of the incident except herself.
Ms Harmozji testified that she had lodged the case against three unidentified suspects since she did not exactly know them at that time, therefore, she did not mention the facial and physical features of the accused persons in her statement recorded under Section 154 of the criminal procedure code.
The witness said she was so freckled out at the time the incident that she failed to identify the accused persons. However, the witness said when she saw them during an identification parade conducted by a judicial magistrate she rightly picked them as the persons involved in the incident.
She once again identified both the accused when they were produced in court through the video link.
The video testimony of the witness was preserved in a CD and made part of the case evidence.
According to the prosecution, accused Manoj Kumar, who wanted to marry Hina, had allegedly killed her husband, Rajeshwar, with the help of his accomplice, Wasif. The trio then tied up the elderly woman, Roshan Harmozji and robbed gold ornaments and other valuable articles from her bungalow before fleeing.
Around three weeks later, police arrested the three suspects and claimed to have recovered the looted articles on the information provided by them. However, Wasif was acquitted by the court after the victim’s legal heirs confirmed that he had not played any role in the murder.
The case was lodged on a complaint of Ms Harmozji at the Boat Basin police station under Section 392 (robbery), 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Published in Dawn, August 4th, 2019