Pakistan Charges 7 in Videotaped Killing

Posted June 29th, 2011 at 9:35 am (UTC-5)
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A Pakistani court has charged six members of the paramilitary forces and a civilian with murder for the videotaped killing of an unarmed man earlier this month.

The charges came Wednesday, three weeks after 22-year-old Sarfaraz Shah died in the southern city of Karachi. A hearing is set for Thursday.

The video shows a civilian dragging Shah over to a group of paramilitary Ranger soldiers, then Shah pleading for his life before being shot. He later died at a Karachi hospital.

All of the accused have denied the charges.

The paramilitary force says the man was armed and trying to rob someone when he was detained.

The video originally aired uncut on Pakistani television. The brutal nature of the footage disturbed many in Pakistan and called into question the actions of authorities.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has condemned the video, saying extrajudicial deaths are becoming increasingly common in Pakistan. Authorities removed the head of Pakistan's paramilitary Rangers force and the Sindh police chief in compliance with a Supreme Court order following the incident.

The country's security forces also have been battling criticism and public doubt over their power following the covert U.S. raid deep into Pakistani territory that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in early May. Pakistan's military did not detect the U.S. helicopter raid into the garrison town of Abbottabad, near the capital Islamabad, until it was ongoing. Even then, Pakistani forces were unable to intercept the U.S. special forces before they fled the country.

Also, militants have staged several high-profile brazen attacks on Pakistani security targets in the aftermath of the bin Laden killing with seemingly relative impunity.