KARACHI: An antiterrorism court has reserved its order on an application seeking transfer of the Ali Raza Abidi murder case to a sessions court for trial.
Former Muttahida Qaumi Movement lawmaker Abidi, was assassinated by armed motorcyclists near his residence in Defence Housing Authority on Dec 25, 2018.
The Counter-Terrorism Department booked and arrested four suspects — Mohammad Farooq, Abdul Haseeb, Mohammad Ghazali and Abu Bakar — in the murder case. Their four absconding accomplices are Bilal, Hasnain, Faizan and Ghulam Mustafa.
The CTD claimed that the suspects belonged to criminals gangs operating in Lyari.
Suspect Abu Bakar moved an application, through his counsel Rizwana Javed, under Section 23 (power to transfer cases to regular courts) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, stating that the incident of the murder did not come within the ambit of Section 7 (acts of terrorism) of the ATA since it did not create any terror or panic at large in the society.
The applicant stated the unfortunate incident was an act of murder and punishable under the provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code.
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The court was pleaded to transfer the case to a sessions’ court for proceeding with the trial in accordance with the law and in the interest of justice.
The counsel for suspect Haseeb, Ammad Ghaffar, also moved an application seeking post-arrest bail for his client stating that although no specific role was assigned to him in the FIR, he had been detained in prison despite the matter required further inquiry.
The court was pleaded to grant him post-arrest bail in the present case.
On the other hand, prosecutor Shoaib Safadar Ghuman and the complainant’s counsel Nasir opposed the case transfer application, arguing that the act of the victim’s murder caused panic and terror in the minds of the general people, thus in the society.
They submitted that the prosecution had enough material available to establish the role of the detained suspects as well as their absconding accomplices in the commission of the alleged offence.
The prosecutor as well as the complainant’s counsel also opposed the bail application of suspect Haseeb stating that his role had been assigned in the interim charge sheet submitted by the investigating officer of the case.
After hearing arguments from the counsel, the ATC-XI judge, who is conducting the trial at the judicial complex inside the central prison, reserved his order till May 31.
The court also repeated non-bailable warrants for arrest of the four adsconders in the case, directing the IO to arrest and produce them in court on the next date.
Earlier, IO Sawan Khan Abbasi informed the court that efforts were going on to arrest the absconders and requested for more time.
In March, the CTD’s IO had charge-sheeted four detained suspects, said to be members of one of the several criminal gangs operating in Lyari.
In the investigation report, the IO mentioned that the CTD arrested the suspects for their alleged involvement in the case. It said that they were affiliated with criminal gangs operating in Lyari.
The IO had shown Bilal, Hasnain, Faizan and Ghulam Mustafa as absconders and placed 12 prosecution witnesses in the charge sheet.
The investigation report said that the suspects tried to set a motorcycle, used in the crime, on fire in a Lyari locality and claimed that the suspects were hitmen as one of the detained persons disclosed that an unidentified man paid them Rs800,000 for killing the former MNA.
The report further said that the suspects ‘confessed’ to their involvement before the police in the presence of the complainant of the case. However, it was silent about whether the suspects were produced before a magistrate for proper confessional statements when they were ‘willing’ to confess.
Initially, a case was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 (acts of terrorism) of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 on the complaint of the victim’s father Akhlaq Abidi at the Gizri police station. Later, Section 21-I (aid and abetment) of the ATA was also incorporated in the case.