Arrests made in Pakistani journalist’s January murder

New York, April 8, 2011–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes movement in the case of the murder of Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar in Karachi, and calls for a full prosecution to break a longstanding pattern of impunity in journalist murders in Pakistan. Police arrested five men they say carried out the killing in January. 

Police apprehended the men in a stolen vehicle in the town of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, according to local news reports. Senior police officer Saud Mirza told a press conference the suspects had confessed to planning and carrying out Babar’s murder on January 13, according to the local Daily Times newspaper. Other suspects, including the alleged mastermind, Faisal Mota in whose house the attack was planned, remained at large, Mirza told reporters.

Babar, a Geo TV reporter, was gunned down in his car in Karachi’s Liaquatabad district on his way home from work. Mirza said the shooting was the assailants’ second attempt at targeting Babar for his reporting on land seizures and targeted killings by criminal groups.

“We are glad to see movement in this case, but we call for a fair trial and further investigation into who is behind the murder of Wali Khan Babar,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia program coordinator. “The mastermind who targeted Babar must be brought to justice to effectively interrupt the cycle of impunity for journalist killings in Pakistan.”

Local news agency the Associated Press of Pakistan named the suspects as Faisal Mehmood, Muhammed Ali Rizvi, Shahrukh, Naveed, and Muhammed Shakeel.

CPJ research revealed Pakistan to be the world’s deadliest country for journalists in 2010. The country also ranked 10th on CPJ’s 2010 Impunity Index, which lists countries where journalists are regularly slain and authorities fail to solve the crimes by calculating unsolved journalist murders as a percentage of the country’s population.”