| ISLAMABAD, March 1
ISLAMABAD, March 1 A Pakistani court convicted
five men on Saturday of murdering a young television reporter,
his brother said, marking the first time anyone has been
convicted for killing a Pakistani journalist.
Wail Babar, a 28-year-old journalist for Geo news, covered
the seamy side of Karachi, a sweltering port megacity of 18
million people. He reported on drugs, crime, militancy and
deadly turf struggles between the city's main political parties.
He was shot dead on Jan. 13, 2011 as he left work.
One of the men convicted, Mohammad Shahrukh Khan, said in a
videotaped confession posted on YouTube that he had been asked
to follow Babar home from work by an activist from the Muttahida
Qaumi Movement (MQM), the party that rules Karachi.
The MQM denies any link to Khan or the other killers.
Khan said he followed Babar and called in the route to the
MQM activist. Moments later, a man he had met at the activist's
house shot Babar to death, he said.
"The traffic had come to a complete halt. Zeeshan was on
foot. He was wearing a cap and pants. He stepped in front of
Wail Babar's car and fired six to seven times. He had a black
pistol," he said in the YouTube confession, which was
authenticated to Reuters by the prosecutor.
The activist and the gunman were never caught but the court
sentenced them to death in absentia, said prosecutor Abdul
Maroof. One man was acquitted and Khan and three others were
sentenced to life in prison.
Six witnesses, a lawyer and two policemen linked to the case
have been murdered, said Maroof, who took on the case in 2012
after two previous prosecutors fled the country.
Maroof's own house was attacked in November but he shot back
and wounded the gunman, who was later captured. Maroof said his
attacker and all five accused stated they were members of MQM.
"I think justice has been done. I hope people would think
again before attacking any other journalist in Pakistan," he
The Committee to Protect Journalists says 46 journalists and
media workers have been killed in Pakistan for their work since
2007. Babar's is the first case successfully prosecuted.
The MQM denies any involvement.
"None of the workers convicted by the court are members of
the MQM. MQM does not tolerate violence," said party spokesman
Nadir Jamal. "They were never affiliated with the MQM. I have
verified it today."
The MQM's leader, Altaf Hussein, is wanted for an unrelated
murder case in Pakistan and lives in exile in London.
Murtaza Babar, the brother of the journalist, appealed to
British authorities to extradite Hussein to Pakistan to face
charges in his brother's death.
"Justice has not been served," he said angrily. "These are
the foot soldiers."
(Additional reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Writing by
Katharine Houreld; Editing by Alistair Lyon)