A court acquitted on Wednesday three suspects, who are also linked to the Karachi airport attack, in two cases pertaining to police encounter and attempted murder.
The additional district and sessions’ judge, Sikandar Ali Pahore, ordered the immediate release of the suspects, Sarmad Siddiqui, Asif Zaheer and Nadeem Burger, if their custody was not required in any other case. However, they are being tried in a high-profile case relating to the June 2014 attack on the airport, which was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
The police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (formerly the Crime Investigation Department) had arrested them from Saddar on October 15, 2014. Initially, the investigators claimed that the suspects had opened fire on the police team and tried to escape. However, they were tracked down and booked under charges of armed assault on law enforcers and attempted murder.
Later, the investigators claimed that the weapons recovered the suspects’ possession at the time of arrest, had been used in the airport attack. Therefore, a separate case was booked under terrorism charges and trial was initiated before the anti-terrorism court.
On Wednesday, the judge produced the judgment which was earlier reserved after hearing arguments from the two sides. The court ruled that the prosecution’s case had become doubtful, as no one was injured by the suspects’ firing, as claimed by the law enforcement personnel.
Extending benefit of doubt, the court said that the prosecution had failed to establish its case, which lacked factual evidence to connect the role of the suspects in the alleged encounter and attempted murder. Therefore, they were acquitted and ordered to be released immediately, if custody was not required in any other case.
Meanwhile, a case is pending against them before the ATC under the charges of providing logistical aid, funds and arms to the 10 attackers, who had stormed the airport, but were killed by the law enforcers.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 3rd, 2016.