Shahbaz Bhatti murder: Accused sent on remand in Islamabad
ISLAMABAD: With the identification of the suspects and accused in the Shahbaz Bhatti murder case still a mystery, the capital police on Tuesday took a man into custody and obtained his physical remand from an anti-terrorism court (ATC) for seven days.
Mr Bhatti, the minorities’ affairs minister, was gunned down in the capital city on March 2, 2011.
The police said Malik Abid, one of the two men wanted in the case, was detained by immigration authorities at Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore after his arrival from UAE.
After being informed by the immigration officials, the capital police reached Lahore and brought the accused to Islamabad.
Later, he was produced before the ATC in Rawalpindi which gave him in the custody of the Industrial Area police.
It may be noted that the Ministry of Interior had already approached the authorities in UAE for the arrest of Ziaur Rehman and Malik Abid for investigation.
Sources said Rehman was arrested in Dubai in the third week of January but he is yet to be repatriated due to delay in completion of legal formalities.
A senior police officer on condition of anonymity confirmed that one of the accused had been arrested in Dubai and efforts were in progress to bring him back. He said the accused hailed from Faisalabad and was a businessman by profession.
However, he said photos of the two accused pasted on the red warrant issued through Interpol did not match with the sketches of the killers made with the help of eyewitnesses.
He added: “neither terrorism nor sectarianism, but a monetary dispute was behind the murder of the minister.”
The two accused were neither identified by eyewitnesses nor nominated by Mr Bhatti`s family in the FIR. They were named by a Karachi–based clergyman – Alexander John – who in his statement later told the investigators that he had cooked up the story in the hope that the minister’s family would pay him some money for the ‘information’.
The clergyman’s statement has already established him as a fraudster but the police and the interior ministry continue following the two men he named as the murderers, said the officer.
From the minister’s assassination till August 2011, senior police officers insisted that `personal enmity` and `business rivalry` were behind the murder.
However, IGP Islamabad Bani Amin Khan on August 23, 2011, informed the Senate standing committee on interior that Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan was behind the murder.
On December 25, 2011, Interior Minister Rehman Malik came up with another version and claimed that Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan had killed the minister.