KARACHI: The Sindh High Court disposed of a petition seeking the release of a former Guantanamo Bay prisoner who is being kept under house arrest in Lahore because of a conflict of jurisdiction.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Musheer Alam and Justice Syed Zakir Hussain directed the petitioner on Friday to file a separate petition before the Lahore High Court since the prisoner is allegedly under house arrest in Lahore.
The bench, however, also asked the Deputy Attorney General, representing the federal government, to direct the authorities concerned to treat the former prisoner at state expense.
A social activist of the Human Rights and Civil Liberties Society of Pakistan had submitted a petition, saying that former Gitmo prisoner Qari Saad Madni was kept under Schedule IV (keeping a dangerous person under observation) of the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA).
Nisar A Mujahid, counsel for the petitioner NGO, had said that Madni was arrested from Jakarta, Indonesia in 2002, was moved to Egypt, then Pakistan and then to the Bagram airbase in Afghanistan. He was kept in a grave inside a pyramid with a mummy for 96 days and tortured severely. His eardrums, skull and brain cavity were damaged during the long incarceration. His condition was discovered by American lawyers who visited Guantanamo Bay who then filed an appeal before the Amercian Court of Appeals. When Madni refused to be treated, the American court ordered his release and Madni was repatriated to Pakistan after seven years, the counsel submitted.
However, when he arrived in Pakistan in April 2008, he was detained in jail for two more months. As his condition deteriorated, he was moved to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, where doctors recommended immediate surgery and asked the government to deposit Rs0.5 million. He was then released and moved to his ancestral residence in Lahore. The former prisoner was then placed under Schedule IV and house arrest.
His family sought help from the human rights NGO. According to the petition, the detention of Madni, who is terminally ill, is illegal because no FIR exists against him in Pakistan.
On Thursday, the SHC had given the state a day’s time to ascertain Madni’s status and inform the court whether he was under house arrest.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2011.
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