Aziz Memon, who worked as a reporter for the privately owned Sindhi TV channel KTN News and the Sindhi-language Daily Kawish newspaper, was found dead with a wire around his neck on February 17, 2020, in an irrigation ditch near the town of Mehrabpur in the Naushahro Feroze district of Sindh province, according to news reports.
Months earlier, Memon released a video, now circulating on Twitter, in which he said officials of the opposition Pakistan People’s Party and local police officers had threatened him over his reporting. His reporting included allegations that individuals were paid to attend a widely publicized 2019 “train march,” in which PPP Chair Bilawal Bhutto Zardari stopped at train stations to give speeches. The PPP is the dominant political party in Sindh province.
Bhutto Zardari issued a statement on February 17 condemning the killing and called for a swift and impartial investigation. CPJ emailed the party for comment but did not receive any reply.
KTN New Director Mustafa Jawars said that Memon had published several investigative reports and had received threats for his reporting last year, according to the Pakistan Press Foundation. Minister for Human Rights Shireen M. Mazari said in the National Assembly that Memon had informed authorities days before his killing about threats to his life, according to The News International.
Fawad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s federal minister for science and technology and the former information minister, called in a Twitter post for the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of the case, and for the Federal Investigation Agency to investigate the killing. Mazari also called for an independent probe into the killing, as did the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists, according to The News International.
Mohammad Farooq, the senior superintendent of police in Naushahro Feroze, told CPJ on February 18 that police were interrogating three individuals in connection with the murder. He added that while Memon had complained about receiving threats from local police officers a year ago, he had not reported any threats to the local police in the six months before he was killed.
On February 19, police identified Memon’s cameramen and four unnamed individuals as suspects in the case, according to Dawn. On February 21, Memon’s brother, Hafeez Memon, expressed dissatisfaction with the slow progress of the case, saying a postmortem report had not been prepared, and asked that the team of investigators be replaced, according to ARY News.
On February 26, Suhail Jokhio, spokesperson for the Sindh police, told CPJ that three of the five suspects were in custody. He said that a postmortem report had not yet been finished, and that additional officers had been added to the case at Hafeez Memon’s request.