At least 57 men deported from Greece escaped from the custody of immigration staff at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) on Thursday after they were brought in on a special chartered plane. Forty-nine of them were later re-arrested.
The majority of those deported were young men from Islamabad and Gujranwala. They escaped from the arrival lounge after being held for five hours without any legal proceedings, according to officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and relatives of the deported.
An immigration official said the deportees reached the airport at 6am via a chartered plane from Athens. At around 11am, the detainees escaped after pushing two female constables guarding them out of the way. They were held in the lounge due to the absence of a detention room.
Following their escape, the FIA and Airport Security Force (ASF) closed the entry and exit gates of the airport to hunt down the escaped men. Law enforcement succeeded in re-arresting 49, while eight others escaped from airport boundaries, the official said.
Speaking to the media, Deputy Director FIA Immigration, Urooj ul Hassan said they did not have armed staff to guard the large number of deportees coming from Greece.
“We have time and again asked the ASF to allow armed FIA officials at the airport for this purpose but the airport guards have not allowed us to.
“We had told the ASF to provide security for holding the deportees at BBIA before shifting them to the FIA lockup,” said Hassan.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2012.