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Death penalty for Pakistani business scion

world Updated: Jun 07, 2013 16:15 IST

A judge in Pakistan on Friday sentenced the son of a powerful businessman to death for murdering a young man in a case that prompted public outrage and a Supreme Court intervention.

Shahrukh Jatoi, whose father is said to be close to President Asif Ali Zardari, was convicted along with accomplice Siraj Talpur of killing the son of a senior police officer in Karachi in December.

Jatoi's family used their influence to stop police registering a murder case initially, until street protests and a social media campaign led to the chief justice taking notice and ordering an investigation.

Judge Mustafa Memon passed the death sentences and jailed two other accomplices for life on Friday.

"The judge awarded Shahrukh Jatoi and Siraj Talpur with the death sentence and half a million rupees fine to each convict," Abdul Maroof, the public prosecutor told AFP.

The court heard that Jatoi and his accomplices chased and shot Shahzeb Khan to punish him for roughing up their servant who had teased Khan's sister while returning home from a wedding in an upmarket area of the southern port city.

Jatoi, 20, came out of court on Friday handcuffed but smiling and giving the V for victory sign, as his defence lawyer said they would launch an appeal.

Murders are common in Karachi, with around 250 people killed every month in recent years, but the Jatoi case touched a nerve.

Throughout Pakistan, people from powerful families are seen as largely untouchable, able to use their wealth and connections to halt inconvenient investigations.

There were rumours that Jatoi's father Sikandar Jatoi, who owns a cement factory and TV station as well as a real estate business in United Arab Emirates, had offered blood money to Khan's family to drop the case.

But Khan's father Aurangzeb Khan told reporters he had never been pressured to accept money, while his wife Ambreen said it was important to the family to see justice done for Shahzeb.

"We took stand for the children of the nation and for their safety as no son of rich men could dare repeat it," a tearful Ambreen said outside the family home.

"Nothing could compensate our loss and I want him executed who fired bullet on my beloved son."

All four accused denied the charges against them and the case will go to appeal.

Though Pakistan still has the death penalty on the statute books, there has been a de facto moratorium on hangings in civilian cases in recent years.