Fact-finding team sent by Pakistani government finds contradictions in reports on Arshad Sharif’s death
Reuters in IslamabadFri 9 Dec 2022
Members of a Shia Muslim religious-political organisation light candles for Arshad Sharif in Karachi after his death. Photograph: Rizwan Tabassum/AFP/Getty Images
A team set up by the Pakistani government to investigate the killing of a well-known Pakistani journalist in Nairobi said it found several contradictions in the version given by Kenyan authorities, and believes it was a case of pre-meditated murder.
The TV journalist Arshad Sharif, who had fled Pakistan citing threats to his life, was shot dead in Nairobi in October. Kenyan officials said it was a case of mistaken identity and that police hunting car thieves opened fire on his vehicle as it drove through a roadblock without stopping.
A two-member fact-finding team from Pakistan that travelled to Kenya and conducted a number of interviews, examined and reconstructed the crime scene and trawled the deceased’s phones and computers, said in a 600-page report that Sharif’s killing was a pre-planned murder.
“Both the members of the [fact-finding team] have a considered understanding that it is a case of planned targeted assassination with transnational characters rather than a case of mistaken identity,” said the report, copies of which were submitted to Pakistan’s supreme court.
“It is more probable that the firing was done, after taking proper aim, at a stationary vehicle,” it said.
Kenyan authorities declined to comment on the specifics of the report.
“The investigation into the matter is still ongoing, so there is not much I can tell,” said Resila Onyango, a spokesperson for the Kenya National Police Service.
He said a multi-agency team was conducting the investigation, and would inform the authorities when it was completed.
Anne Makori, the chair of the Kenyan police watchdog, the Independent Police Oversight Authority, told Reuters investigations were ongoing.
Pakistan’s interior minister, Rana Sanaullah, had said before the release of the report that Sharif’s body had bruises and torture marks, suggesting it was a targeted killing.
The fact-finding team highlighted one wound in particular on Sharif’s back, saying it appeared to have been inflicted from relatively close range. The report noted there was no corresponding penetration mark of a bullet in the seat on which Sharif was sitting when the shooting purportedly took place, calling it a “ballistic impossibility”.
“The injury had to have been caused either before the journalist got into the vehicle, or the shot was fired from a relatively close range, possibly from inside the vehicle, and almost certainly not a moving vehicle,” the report said.
Sharif had fled Pakistan citing threats to his life after the government registered several treason cases against him.
One of the cases stemmed from reporting Sharif did that led to an accusation that he had spread a call from an official in a previous government, led by Imran Khan, for members of the armed forces to mutiny. Sharif and the official denied inciting mutiny.
Khan said Sharif had been murdered for his journalistic work. He and his successor as prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, had called for a judicial investigation.
The fact-finding team’s report also pointed out apparent contradictions between the autopsy reports in Kenya and Pakistan. The one in Pakistan identified 12 injuries on Sharif’s body whereas the Kenyan report identified just two injuries pertaining to gunshot wounds.
The fact-finding team report said doctors believed the injuries may have been the result of torture or a struggle, but it could not be established until verified by the doctor who conducted the post-mortem examination in Kenya.