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Pakistani Supreme Court to oversee probe into death of journalist Arshad Sharif

Arshad Sharif. [Standard,file]

Pakistan's Supreme Court set up a panel of five judges on Tuesday, December 6 to supervise an investigation into the death of a prominent journalist, who was shot dead in Kenya.

Arshad Sharif was shot and killed on Kiserian-Magadi road in Kajiado County in October this year.

The Supreme Court said it had taken up the case voluntarily, and was seeking responses from Pakistan's foreign and interior ministries, the Federal Investigation Agency and the Intelligence Bureau.

"The journalist community and the public at large are deeply distressed and concerned about the death of the senior journalist, and are seeking the court's scrutiny of the matter," the court said in a statement.

According to a tweet by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Shariff, the Executive and the Judiciary of the Asian country had agreed to solve the murder.

“I welcome Supreme Court taking suo motu notice of the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif. I had already written a letter to Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan for setting up a Judicial Commission to probe the murder. The government will extend full cooperation to the court,” Shehbaz tweeted at midday on Tuesday.

This tweet elicited a reaction from Sharif’s widow, Javeria Siddique, who accused the Pakistani government of frustrating her husband, forcing him to seek refuge in a foreign country.

“My late journalist husband was forced to leave Pak [sic] in Aug 2022 bcz [sic] of the scary intimidation tactics of ur gov [sic] and registration of fake FIRs against him under so-called treason and sedition charges in various part of the country. Ur talking abt press freedom. Really?” she tweeted.

Sharif, 50, was killed while travelling in a vehicle on the outskirts of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Sharif had earlier fled from Pakistan, citing threats to his life after the government filed treason charges against him.

Kenyan police said Sharif was shot dead in a case of mistaken identity.

According to the authorities, Sharif was fatally shot when police were hunting car thieves.

The law enforcement officers opened fire on the vehicle Sharif was travelling in as it drove through their roadblock late at night.

Police had formed a roadblock using small stones, but the car in which Sharif was a passenger failed to stop, even after officers opened fire, police said in a report.

Nine bullets hit the car and one hit Sharif in the head.