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Former SCBA president Abdul Latif Afridi killed in Peshawar

Suspected shooter in police custody; police advise avoiding speculation
Updated 18 Jan, 2023 09:17am
<p>Former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Abdul Latif Afridi during a meeting. INP/File</p>

Former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association Abdul Latif Afridi during a meeting. INP/File

Former president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) Abdul Latif Afridi was killed in the bar room of the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Monday, a hospital spokesperson confirmed. The suspected shooter, who was identified as lawyer Adnan Sami Afridi, was detained by the police at the crime scene.

“Latif Afridi was brought dead to the Lady Reading Hospital,” spokesperson Muhammad Asim said. The senior lawyer suffered multiple bullet wounds, he added.

The body was taken to Afridi’s native village by ambulance.

The murder would be investigated from every angle, SSP Operations Peshawar Kashif Aftab Abbasi told reporters outside the bar room (crime scene).

When asked about the apparent broad daylight murder, he said: “Now the police are collecting evidence and no one would be released and action would be taken if negligence was found on anyone’s part.”

Visitors have to go through a process to enter the premises of the PHC, as the august house has “tight” security that includes checking and scanners. The route to the bar room also includes the same process.

The court absolved the senior lawyer and his children from the murder of anti-terrorism court judge Aftab Afridi last week. They were acquitted in the case. Another suspect was also arrested in the case. Latif Afridi condemned the killing and said he had played no part. But, Aftab’s son Majid Afridi was adamant that Latif and his sons were the “real culprits”.

The main accused, Adnan, was remanded in police custody for two days on suspicion of murder on Tuesday. He is the son of senior lawyer Samiullah Afridi, who was killed in 2015 after representing Shakeel Afridi, the doctor jailed for his alleged role in helping the US to locate Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden by running a vaccination campaign.

Samiullah worked on the case with Latif Afridi aka ‘Latif Lala’. He was shot dead in 2015. Different factions of banned TTP claimed the responsibility, however, the dead lawyer’s family instead blamed Latif’s relatives.

 Police officers survey the crime scene after, according to police, a gunman killed Abdul Latif Afridi, lawyer and former president of Pakistans Supreme Court Bar Association, in Peshawar on January 16, 2023. Reuters
Police officers survey the crime scene after, according to police, a gunman killed Abdul Latif Afridi, lawyer and former president of Pakistans Supreme Court Bar Association, in Peshawar on January 16, 2023. Reuters

Initial reports said that the suspect had donned a look of a lawyer as advocates do not go through the strict security parameters. This apparently helped him carry the gun inside the room. At least six bullets were fired on the senior judge, it added.

Such causes were also found in the past when the legal community was attacked in court.

The police would conduct the forensic test of the 9mm pistol recovered from the crime scene. It was a small arm. “An identity card and a law college card have been recovered from the shooter’s pockets,” Abbasi said as he shared the preliminary investigation with the media.

“It will be premature to do any kind of speculation,” he added.

The SSP said that the senior lawyer was shifted to the hospital in injured condition. But, Afridi succumbed to his wounds. “The police have secured the crime scene and the accused was in police custody. Interrogation is under way.”

Condemnation

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was grieved over the “brutal killing” of the eminent jurist.

“I pray for patience for his family and for his elevation. The worsening law and order situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is alarming, the provincial government should immediately take steps to improve it,” he said in a tweet.

Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the murder and directed the relevant institutions to bring the killers to justice.

“Latif Afridi was a true democratic leader. He was an effective voice against terrorists,” he said.

Latif Afridi was a democrat and a staunch opponent of extremism, former president Asif Ali Zardari said.

“His [Afridi’s] struggle for the restoration of democracy is unforgettable,” he added.

ANP’s Zahid Khan described the death as a loss of not just the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province but the whole country.

He blamed the PTI for rising terror incidents and unrest in the country. “Terrorists have started killing people since when Imran Khan was ousted from the prime minister’s office.”

He lamented that no one would live here if the unrest continues in the country. Khan was not hopeful of any outcome after the arrest of the suspect while recalling an incident when two women were murdered in broad daylight in Islamabad in the past.

“Our judiciary and the police are the most corrupt institution.”

Khyber Government spokesperson Muhammad Ali Saif condemned the murder and praised the senior lawyer’s contribution to the country.

“Unfortunately, he had personal enmity and he was attacked in the past. The court premises should be a secure place, however, such incidents are happening,” he said, adding that the government would fully involve the sectors concerned in the investigation.

When asked about security, he spoke about the tiers of security in the PHC. He admitted that there might be a security lapse, however, he stressed investigation might reveal further information.

“Whoever is involved in the murder will be brought to justice,” Saif said.

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