The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Monday directed Adiala Jail authorities to release nine Pakistani men who were shifted there from Thailand after they were convicted and sentenced in narcotics cases.
Justices Saghir Ahmed Qadri and Chaudhry Shahid Saeed of the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench issued the release orders after jail authorities informed the court that the nine men had completed the jail terms for their offenses under Pakistani law according to information gathered from the interior ministry.
As many as 35 men had petitioned the high court for their release, contending that the long jail sentences issued by Thai courts could not be maintained after they had been moved into the jurisdiction of Pakistani criminal law.
A senior official at Adiala Jail informed the bench that the convicts had completed their jail terms since they had transferred to Pakistan last October under the country’s narcotics laws. They are Risalat Khan, Ghulam Fareed, Habibullah, Liaqat Ali, Basharat Ali, Zulfiqar Ahmed, Imran Naseem, Ahmed Ratib and Masood Arif.
Talking to The Express Tribune, the petitioners’ lawyer Advocate Basharatullah Khan said the 35 men were brought to Pakistan under a transfer of offenders agreement. “The men were given 25 to 30-year jail terms after a small quantity of narcotics was recovered from them in Thailand in 2000,” the lawyer said.
The imprisonment for the petitioners’ crime was not more than 10 years. Since the men had been detained for up to 12 years, they could not be kept in jail any longer under Pakistani laws, Khan argued.
According to Thai police records, 55 grams of narcotics were recovered from Risalat Khan, for which he received a 25-year jail sentence. Such offences have jail terms of not more than two years under Pakistani law, the petitioners’ counsel said.
Regarding the rest of the detained men, the lawyer said as soon as jail authorities compile records on jail time served by his clients and inform the court, they would also be released.
Missing persons case
Meanwhile, the Rawalpindi police informed the court of Justice Saghir Ahmed Qadri that Military Intelligence (MI) had informed the inquiry commission for missing persons that the man was in their custody.
Justice Qadri directed the Saddar Bairuni station house officer (SHO) to submit in writing that the son of petitioner Mumtaz Begum was in the custody of MI within one week.
The petitioner, a widow from Swat, had moved the LHC’s Rawalpindi bench for the recovery of her son, Muhammad Saleem, 46, alleging that he was taken away by the police’s elite force from their house in Gulshan-e-Abad, Rawalpindi in February.
She further alleged that military authorities abducted her son to press her family to give up their claim on ancestral farmland in Swat.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.