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Pakistani Soldier Gets Death Sentence in Shooting

Pakistani police officers escort troops of a paramilitary force to an anti-terrorist court to face charges in the June shooting death of an unarmed man in Karachi, Pakistan, Aug. 12, 2011.

A Pakistani court on Friday sentenced to death a paramilitary soldier who had shot and killed an unarmed teenager in the southern port city of Karachi. The death sentence was handed down Friday by the anti-terrorism court for Shahid Zafar, the paramilitary soldier who shot Sarfaraz Shah.

The court also convicted six other people, handing life sentences to five paramilitary troopers and one civilian security guard.

The verdicts were a rare instance of Pakistani security forces being held publicly accountable over human rights abuses, which are allegedly widespread.

Shah was shot at point blank range by the soldiers and was captured on video. The footage of him bleeding to death from his wounds while crying out for help was widely shown on Pakistani TV and generated widespread anger.

In response to the judgment Shah's mother thanked God for the decision and said she hopes the courts will have the strength to carry out the sentencing.

The men had accused Shah of being involved in an attempted robbery at a public park in the volatile city of Karachi. The men were part of a paramilitary force called the Rangers that had been deployed in large numbers to help city officials maintain order.

But, the video showed the young man repeatedly begging for mercy before he was fatally shot by the soldiers.

The event led to the resignation of the regional head of the security group. There has also been widespread criticism that the Karachi based Rangers are unable to handle the situation in the violent and unstable city.

The courts in Pakistan have also been frequently criticized, the conviction rate by some estimates is as low as 10 percent.

Following the ruling, the defense attorney for the Rangers said that while his team respected the verdict of the court that his clients have the legal right to appeal and hoped that in that appeal the court will recognize the killing as an accident.

If accepted, that appeal will now be sent to the high court of Pakistan.

If the verdict is upheld the family of killed man will receive the equivalent of $2,000 in compensation.