Baldia factory fire: Key suspect brought back to Karachi from Bangkok

Rehman alias Bhola will be presented in ATC today

Faraz Khan December 14, 2016
Abdul Rehman escorted by FIA officers at Karachi airport. PHOTO: ONLINE

KARACHI: One of the key suspects of the Baldia factory inferno, Abdul Rehman alias Bhola, was brought back to Karachi from Bangkok on Tuesday and would be presented in an anti-terrorism court today (Wednesday).

Rehman is accused of setting Ali Enterprises on fire after the refusal of the garment factory owners to pay extortion money back in September 2012. A joint interrogation team (JIT) is likely to be formed to interrogate the suspect, The Express Tribune has learnt.

A Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team, including deputy director Badar Baloch and inspector Rehmatullah Domki, had reached Thailand on Sunday and handed over necessary documents for taking over Rehman’s custody.

“He will be produced before an anti-terrorism court today from where he would be handed over to the police officials concerned following court formalities,” Inspector Domki said. The case of Pakistan’s deadliest factory fire, which claimed the lives of 259 workers, remains unsolved. Though the inferno was initially declared an accident, the case took a dramatic turn in February 2015 when a Rangers investigation alleged the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was behind the deadly blaze.

Despite the formation of multiple JITs, investigators have failed to make any major breakthroughs. A significant step forward was following the statements of the factory owners and investigators after which it was declared an act of crime.

Following Rehman’s arrest, police officials investigating the case have decided to form another JIT to interrogate and investigate Bhola.

“A JIT would be constituted to interrogate Bhola as he is the first key suspect to have been directly linked to the fire,” said Investigations SSP Akhtar Farooq while talking to The Express Tribune. His arrest might result in further arrests as well.

An investigation team headed by DIG Sultan Khawaja and DIG Munir Shaikh has also recorded the statements of the garment factory owners, who have refused to return to Pakistan. They had claimed the fire was not accidental and an extortionist group was behind the incident.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2016.


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