An anti-terrorism court on Saturday ordered the release of a suspect held in connection with the murder of former federal minister for minority affairs Shahbaz Bhatti, after the police failed to produce any evidence against him.
Special Judge ATC-II Syed Pervaiz Ali Shah directed the I-9 Industrial Area police to free Hafiz Nazar Muhammad, while denying an extension of physical remand for the suspect.
SHO Sajjad Bukhari submitted before the court a request for the extension of the physical remand for eight more days, after Hafiz Nazar was already interrogated for five days.
Muhammad was arrested on June 19, after he made calls to different persons claiming he knew about the assassins of the former federal minister.
The judge asked the police whether the suspect was nominated in the FIR and if they had managed to obtain any useful information from him.
However, the SHO could not come up with a satisfactory answer, resulting in the court’s direction to set him free.
The investigators had informed the court that Hafiz Nazar was traced through his cell phone after he made several calls to different persons, including minorities MPA Tahir Nazeer Chaudhry claiming he knew of Bhatti’s assassins.
It was on March 2 this year that an unidentified person riding a white Mehran car shot Bhatti dead at I-8 Markaz as he was going to his office after meeting his ailing mother.
Bhatti, the only Christian in the federal cabinet, was killed in Islamabad on March 2 this year by three unidentified gunmen.
The killers left a note stating they had killed Bhatti because he had raised his voice against the blasphemy laws.
Taseer assassination case
Meanwhile on Saturday, defence lawyers in the case of the assassination of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer cross-examined the magistrate who recorded the confessional statement of the self confessed killed Mumtaz Qadri.
Special Judge Anti Pervaiz Ali Shah put of the hearing of the case till July 2, after leading defence lawyer Malik Muhammad Rafiq completed the cross-examiantion of Assistant Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa.
The AC in its statement had said that Qadri, a constable of Punjab’s elite force, had confessed killing former governor for criticising the blasphemy laws.
The defence lawyers, on the other hand, have been claiming that the confessional statement of Qadri was obtained through coercive measures.
The hearing of the case of the murder of Taseer, who was shot dead in Islamabad on January 4 this year, was taken up after over a month.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2011.