KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — The family of a Pakistani student whose death sparked outrage against the abuse of power by the wealthy has decided to pardon the men convicted in his killing, their lawyer said Monday.
The family filed an affidavit with the court several days ago pardoning the men accused of killing their son, Shahzeb Khan, lawyer Mehmood Alam Rizvi said.
Pakistani law has a maximum punishment of the death penalty, or life in prison for a murder. But, under Islamic laws victim families can strike an out-of-court deal with the murderers. In that case, the victim's families generally appear in court to testify that they have pardoned the murderer in the name of God.
These pardons often include the accused paying the victim's families money but in this case the lawyer said the victims' family did not accept any payment.
The court must now decide whether to accept the pardon, but judges generally follow the decision of the family.
The two men convicted, Shahrukh Jatoi and Nawab Siraj Talpur, come from two of the wealthiest families in the southern port city of Karachi, a violent metropolis of 18 million people. They were convicted of killing the 20-year-old Khan one late night in December after the university student had an argument with one of Talpur's servants.
The killing led to an unusual social media campaign demanding the country's rich and powerful be held accountable for their acts.
Powerful Pakistanis and their offspring are now faced with a growing cadre of citizens — often middle class or upper middle class — who are increasingly fighting them with the help of the Internet, an activist Supreme Court and prominent political figures seeking to harness their anger.
Activists in Karachi sprang into action over Khan's death, holding protests, using Twitter and setting up a Facebook page, "In memory of Shahzeb Khan," to get word out about the case.
Eventually, the Supreme Court demanded that police arrest the suspected killers in 24 hours, seize their property and freeze their bank accounts.
Jatoi was nabbed in Dubai, where he had tried to escape.
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