KARACHI: Eight suspects, allegedly involved in the Safoora bus attack, have been handed over to the army from police custody for their trial in military courts.
This is the first time that suspected militants belonging to the global terrorist organisation, Islamic States (IS), have been handed over to the army.
The suspects include Saad Aziz alias Tin Tin, a business graduate from Institute of Business Administration, construction entrepreneur Tahir Hussain alias Minhas, call centre agent Asadur Rehman alias Malik, , Azhar Ishrat, an electronic engineer from Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology, post-graduate degree holder Hafiz Nasir, former Fishermen Cooperative Housing Society vice-chairperson Sultan Qamar Siddiqui and his brother Hussain Umer Siddiqui alias Shibli, and weapons dealer Naeem Sajid alias Peena.
In December last year, the federal government, on the advice of the Sindh government, had approved the trial of 18 cases against the suspects in the special courts, established following the 21st Constitutional Amendment in the aftermath of the Peshawar school attack. So far, only 23 cases from the province have been transferred to these courts. Still, there are around 10 cases, which have yet to be transferred, pending in different courts in the city against the suspects.
About their fate, the authorities say that the proceedings in these cases will only be carried out once the military court has completed the current trial. "They [the suspects] may not be released from there [military's custody] and returned to this prison [central jail] after the completion of trial before Special Military Court…," read a letter issued to the courts.
The suspects were transferred into army custody on January 12. Regarding the process, a document stated that the 'high-profile prisoners' were handed over in 'sound and good health.' They have been shifted to the heavily guarded Malir Cantonment where, according to the sources, the special courts are situated.
The suspects remained in central jail for months during the investigators probed each of them and as per their findings assigned a different role to each one of them. With respect to the investigations, the arrested suspects have been divided into three groups, assailants, facilitators and financers.
The assailant's group includes Hussain, the alleged mastermind behind the attack, Aziz and Rehman. They have been accused of carrying out the attack. During the attack, Hussain and Aziz reportedly boarded the bus while Rehman remained outside in a car as a cover. It is also said that Aziz was to film the execution, but somehow he was not able to.
The other group identified as of facilitators comprises Ishrat and Nasir. They have been accused of providing their expertise in making bombs and also doing research prior to the attack. Sultan, his brother and Sajid fall in the category of the financers. The trio was arrested in later stages of the investigations. They have been accused of providing logistics, armoury and financial support to the suspects.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2016.
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