The elderly parents of an outspoken judge of Pakistan's Supreme Court were murdered in mysterious circumstances in Lahore and police are probing the possibility that the killings might be linked to several sensitive cases taken up by the judiciary.
The bodies of the parents of Justice Javed Iqbal, a senior judge of the apex court, were found by tenants in their home near Cavalry Ground within Lahore's cantonment late on Tuesday night.
Preliminary investigations suggested that Malik Abdul Hameed, an 82 year old former police official and Zarina, 70, were suffocated with pillows in their bedroom, police said. A preliminary report from police said the killers ransacked the couple’s home to make the incident look like a robbery.
An autopsy revealed that the judge’s parents were assaulted before being killed. Hameed’s body had injuries on the mouth and chest and his wife’s body too bore injuries, Geo News channel quoted its sources as saying.
The autopsy further revealed that the judge’s parents were killed sometime on Tuesday evening.
Police have detained a former maid against whom Hameed had filed a robbery complaint and the security guard of the neighbourhood. Police are also questioning two women who live as tenants in the upper storey of the house and found the bodies.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik today formed a joint investigation team to probe the murders and sought a report from the Punjab Police chief. Initial reports last night had suggested that Hameed and his wife were killed when they tried to resist an attempted robbery.
Police officials later said both of them were assaulted before being suffocated to death. Supreme Court Bar Association president Asma Jehangir said there is a need to investigate whether there is a link between murders and sensitive cases that are being handled by Justice Iqbal.
Iqbal is either heading or a member of apex court benches hearing several high-profile cases, including one related to massive corruption in hiring accommodation for Haj pilgrims in Saudi Arabia and another on hundreds of persons held without charge by security and intelligence agencies.
The judge had on Monday announced that 2011 would be the year for the "recovery of missing persons", the people being held without charge.
During the same hearing, Iqbal had called for legislation to deal with the whisking away of people without a trial or a hearing.
Lawyers across Pakistan called for a nation-wide strike today to protest the killings. There was no activity at lower courts and several High Courts, including the ones in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore, as lawyers stayed away from work.
President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the murders.