Islamabad: Weak evidence gains terror suspects freedom
ISLAMABAD: Half baked and weak evidence has led to release of eight terror suspects in just 15 days. The single bench of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) passing the orders on five identical pointed out lack of credible evidence and insufficient supportive material in the detention orders of these suspects.
The suspects were charged with involvement in the attacks on former president General (retired) Pervez Musharraf and the attack that killed Surgeon General Mushtaq Baig as well as on the Danish Embassy and a military bus at R. A. Bazaar.
The IHC released seven suspects on June 28, 2011 in four identical petitions. They were detained after acquittal from Anti Terrorist Courts (ATC) and the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench respectively on the charges of terrorist attacks in Danish Embassy, Surgeon General Mushtaq Baig and R. A. Bazar.
Of these seven, Muhammad Nadeem, Naeem Shakir and Osama bin Waheed were acquitted by the ATC, while the other four, Dr Abdul Razzaq, Zeeshan Jalil, Faisal Ahmed and Muhammad Sarfraz, were acquitted by the LHC after being convicted by the ATC.
The IHC on July 13, 2011 also set aside the detention orders of Jamshed Raza alias Chacha, who was accused of being involved in the attack on Musharraf. He was granted bail by ATC Special Judge on May 31, 2011 but detained on the orders of Additional District Magistrate of Islamabad soon after his acquittal.
The detention orders of the other seven were issued on the recommendation of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) and with the approval of the Prime Minister. Jamshed Raza was detained by the orders Additional District Magistrate.
In almost all the detention orders, the competent authority expressed the fear that the suspects, if released, may damage key government installations and places of public importance. The orders alleged that these suspects had sympathies for proscribed organisations and groups and that the recent assassination of Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti and other terrorist attacks proved that militants were re-assembling in the Capital.
On the other hand, Chief Justice of the IHC Iqbal Hameedur Rehman pointed out that the detention orders appeared to have been passed without any reasonable justification.
The court order also pointed out flaws in the process of detaining these suspects by referring to the 2003 decision of the Supreme Court which said that “the court must be satisfied that the material before the detaining authority was such that a reasonable person would be satisfied as to the necessity for making the orders.” It added, “The detaining authority must place the whole material, upon which the order of detention is based, before the court notwithstanding its claim of privilege….”
According to the IHC, the authority presumed the detained suspects as a threat but the material before it would not satisfy a reasonable person that detention was necessary.
Advocate Javed Awan, the counsel of three detained suspects, told Dawn that the detention orders were baseless. If the prosecutors had any evidence they should have produced it before the trial court, he added.
According to him, serious flaws in prosecution at the initial stages of trial court could not be addressed later when the case was tried at the higher courts and that this is why the Deputy Attorney General failed to convince the court.
Deputy Attorney General Tariq Mehmood Jahangiri said that in order to avoid legal complication later, the investigative agencies should prepare a case with care, incorporating tangible documents to convince the court.
However, a federation counsel, on the condition of anonymity told Dawn that eyewitnesses were not produced before the court and that the investigating agencies simply relied upon corroboration or indirect evidence.