One of 11 men that have been held by intelligence agencies for over one year has died in custody, according to their lawyer – who alleges that the man was tortured to death.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Tariq Asad, the counsel of the deceased, said that 25-year-old Aamir was found dead on Sunday – and the reasons for his death had been cited to be “kidney failure”. The 11 men had been picked up by intelligence agencies from Adiala Jail after they were acquitted of terrorism charges by a court.
After the Supreme Court took up the disappearance of the 11 acquitted men, spy agencies late last year admitted to having the men in custody, and said that they would be tried under the Army Act.
However, many months on, Advocate Asad said that Aamir’s family was informed on Sunday that he had died.
Aamir had been booked by Rawalpindi police in 2007. Two police reports were registered against him and his accomplices – one in New Town and another in RA Bazar police station – on charges of allegedly possessing suicide vests and illegal weapons.
Amir and 10 other accused were tried in an anti-terrorism court which acquitted them on April 8 last year. The judge ordered their release from police detention, but the Rawalpindi DCO passed a 30-day detention order for all 11 accused. A day before the deadline, the secretary of the provincial home department passed another order, detaining them for another 60 days.
Tariq Asad filed a writ petition in the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court against Aamir and others’ detention, terming it illegal for the authorities to detain the accused despite their acquittal.
Justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmed, who took up the lawyer’s petition, set aside both the detention orders on April 28 last year and ordered immediate release of all detainees.
Superintendent of Adiala Jail Saeedullah Gondal instead of releasing handed them over to the personnel of a spy agency.
Asad also filed a contempt of court petition in the local bench of the LHC, upon which Justice Tariq Ali issued arrest warrants against Adiala Jail Superintendent Saeedullah Gondal and Deputy Superintendent Khalid Bashir.
Ilyas Siddiqui, who was pleading the case of seven of the accused, filed a writ petition in the LHC for the recovery of all 11 people, but
the court disposed of the petition finding it to be a case of missing persons.
Siddiqui filed a review petition in the Supreme Court against LHC verdict where Advocate Raja Irshad Ahmed appeared before the court in defence of spy agencies and admitted that all 11 accused were held by them in a hearing held on December 9 last year.
Raja Irshad argued before the court that all those eleven people will be tried under the Army Act of 1952 and if they were found innocent, they would be released. The Supreme Court found the spy agencies’ response satisfactory and disposed of the petition. Since then, the accused were in the custody of spy agencies.
Aamir’s lawyer questioned how a young and robust man, who was in good health before he was abducted, could die of ‘kidney failure’.
The family has refused to receive the dead body unless postmortem is conducted by an independent medical board. They said that they would file a writ petition in the Peshawar High Court on Tuesday (today).
The 11 persons who had been acquitted by the Special Judge Anti-Terrorist Court were: Muhammad Aamir, Syed Abdul Saboor, Syed Abdul Basit, Syed Abdul Majid, Dr Niaz Ahmad, Muhammad Mazharul Haq and Shafiqur Rehman, Tehsinullah, Syed Arab alias Tariq, Muhammad Shafique and Gul Roz.
During a period of 15 months, relatives had been allowed the men only once, in February 2011. It was said that the men were in miserable condition and could not even stand on their feet.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2011.