KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) granted bail on Wednesday to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Qadir Patel, nominated as a co-accused in the case against former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain for facilitating terrorists.
The ATC-II approved Patel's bail plea as he appeared before the judge following his return to the country after taking protective bail from the Sindh High Court.
On April 8, the PPP leader, through his counsel, had approached the appellate court, contending that he wished to surrender before the trial court and face the charges but since non-bailable warrants were issued against him, he feared that he would be arrested at the airport.
Earlier this month, the ATC had issued warrants for him and other absconders, including Pak Sarzameen Party's Anis Kaimkhani and Muttahida Qaumi Movement's (MQM) Saleem Shahzad, for the tenth time since December last year with strict directions to investigating officer DSP Altaf Hussain to arrest them.
In his plea before the trial court, Patel submitted that the charges against him were false and tantamount to defamation. He added that he never referred anybody for treatment or otherwise to the Ziauddin hospitals owned by Dr Asim where it is alleged terrorists were given medical treatment and safe haven.
Inquiring about his absence in the case for the past several months, the judge asked why he did not appear before the court after the warrants were issued if he was not involved. Patel replied saying he was seeking medical treatment abroad and therefore could not come back.
The judge then remarked that he was fortunate of having obtained protective bail earlier, otherwise he would not be able go back home from the court.
The judge, after listening to arguments on the plea, granted interim bail to Patel against a surety of Rs200,000 - the same amount set by the high court earlier - with the condition that he would not leave the country till the disposal of the case. He has now been summoned on April 18 for hearing.
Talking to the media after the hearing, Patel said "I was in London when I learned about my warrants. Now I am back to face the charges."
Published in The Express Tribune, April 14th, 2016.
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