Karachi: Mumtaz Bhutto released on bail
KARACHI: Mumtaz Ali Bhutto, chief of the Sindh National Front, returned home on Monday evening after he was enlarged on bail by a judicial magistrate against a surety bond of Rs50, 000. The police had arrested him in his hometown Larkana on Jan 3 after he was booked in connection with an attack allegedly made by his party activists on a Sindhi newspaper`s office in Clifton and threatening its staff with dire consequences for not publishing an article by the SNF chief. He was shifted to Karachi the same day and later admitted to the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases on the Sindh High Court`s order.
The general secretary of the Karachi Bar Association, Naeem Qureshi, moved a bail application of behalf of Mumtaz Bhutto in the court of civil judge and judicial magistrate (south) Syed Nadeem Hussain Shah.
The judge pronounced the order after recording arguments from both sides. The applicant`s counsel said his client was innocent and was being victimised on political grounds.
Earlier, the same court remanded Mr Bhutto in judicial custody till Jan 11. The investigation officer sought the physical remand by arguing that the investigation was incomplete and the suspect`s interrogation was needed to arrest the other culprits.
The suspect`s counsel strongly opposed the plea and said his client was a former governor and chief minister of Sindh, and an aged person while the prosecution did not produce any evidence before the court to link him with the offence.
In the meantime, the bail application was moved. The prosecutor sought time to study the case. But the applicant`s counsel showed strong resistance and asked the court to take up the plea for arguments as, he said, it was in the interest of justice.
At the same time, the public prosecutor, in a sudden change of heart, agreed to argue the bail application, but did not raise any objection to the petition.
Mr Bhutto was not produced in court due to his illness and a medical certificate issued by the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases was submitted in the court to seek exemption from personal appearance.
A case (FIR 01/09) was lodged under Sections 147, 148, 149, 506B, 452, 504 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code on a complaint of Dr Khair Mohamamd, managing editor of the daily Awami Awaz, at the Frere police station.
According to the FIR, around 30 to 35 men carrying weapons entered the office of the Awami Awaz on Jan 2 and allegedly scuffled with staff and later threatened them with dire consequences and used abusive language for not publishing an article written by Mr Bhutto.