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Pakistan high court official killed for ties to ousted chief justice: Chaudhry lawyers

[JURIST] Lawyers for suspended Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry [official website; JURIST news archive] said Tuesday that Monday's killing of Pakistani Supreme Court deputy registrar Syed Hamad Raza at his home in Islamabad was "targeted" and that Raza had been scheduled to appear as a witness on Chaudhry's behalf. The lawyers told AFP that Raza was under pressure from many government agencies, and that it seemed the murder was linked to Chaudhry's case. Investigators originally said the murder appeared to be connected to a robbery, but Raza's wife told Reuters that no attempted robbery took place, but rather the gunmen only shot Raza and ran away.

On Monday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] adjourned the hearing of petitions [JURIST report] filed by Chaudhry after Justice Falak Sher, one of the fourteen justices on the Supreme Court, objected to the presence of more junior judges on the high court panel [JURIST report] hearing the case and refused to participate. Chaudhry had scheduled a visit to Karachi to address a meeting of lawyers supporting him, but was unable to leave the airport due to the escalation of violence [JURIST report; BBC backgrounder] Saturday between what has been characterized as pro-government Urdu-speaking Mohajir and anti-government Pashtu fractions that left more than 150 wounded and 41 dead. On Monday, opposition leaders held a general strike in Karachi and other cities to protest the violence, which government security forces allegedly allowed to take place. Following the weekend violence, Pakistan's Interior Ministry banned gatherings of over five people in Karachi, dispatched an additional 3,000 paramilitaries and has ordered security forces to shoot rioters on sight. AFP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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