LAHORE - An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Thursday acquitted all accused in Sahiwal killings case by giving them the benefit of doubt.

ATC-I Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta conducted the proceedings, and announced the verdict after hearing arguments of the parties and examining the available evidence.

The court held that the injured witnesses, who were victim Khalil’s children, had failed to identify the accused, namely Safdar Hussain, Ahsan Khan, Ramzan, Saifullah, Husnain and Nasir Nawaz.

The court further held that the accused could not be identified through Photogrammetric test too. The in-charge ammunition had also testified that the accused returned their weapons and rounds, the court observed.

The court recorded statements of 49 witnesses, including of victim Zeeshan’s brother Ehtisham, Khalil’s children, Umair and Muniba, and his brother Jalil.

Khalil, his wife Nabila, their teenage daughter Areeba, and friend Zeeshan Javed were killed after the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) personnel opened fire on their car in Sahiwal on January 19, 2019.

Jalil had lodged a case against six CTD officials at Yousafwal police station.

Initially, the trial was conducted in Sahiwal, but the Lahore High Court (LHC) ordered transfer of the case from Sahiwal to Lahore while allowing a petition filed by Jalil, brother of Khalil. The petitioner had contended that they had been facing problems while attending trial proceedings in Sahiwal.