The Supreme Court has issued notices to the directors general of the Inter-Services Intelligence and the Military Intelligence to explain the circumstances that led to the deaths of four men in their custody.
The men were being tried under the Army Act on charges of attacking the GHQ and Hamza camp.
A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, also issued notices to the defence secretary, the advocate general and the accused commandant. The respondents have been told to file their replies by January 30.
The orders were passed on Wednesday as the court took up a constitutional petition for hearing after removing objections raised over it by the Registrar office.
Petitioner Rohifa, through her counsel Tariq Asad, had petitioned the court for the provision of ‘due process of law’ to three of her sons – Syed Abdul Saboor, Syed Abdul Basit and Syed Abdul Majid. “The matter is of public importance and there is apprehension of deaths of the remaining detainees,” the petitioner had informed the court.
After the Registrar raised objections to the petition, Syed Saboor was killed by intelligence agencies, his brother Mufti Shakoor told The Express Tribune.
Agencies had taken Saboor into custody along with his brothers and eight others on charges of attacking the GHQ and ISI’s Hamza camp, Asad said.
Saboor, 29, is the fourth civilian detained in the case who died under mysterious circumstances in the last six months.
Suspect Mohammad Aamir died on August 15 last year; Tahseenullah died on December 17, and Said Arab on December 18.
Justice Tariq observed that media reports suggested that the victims’ bodies were being left along the roadside for their families to collect.
Asad said the accused started leaving bodies by the roadside after the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar refused to accept them one after the other.
Asad said that three of the detained men died because of torture and slow poisoning, and asked the court to require the authorities to submit comprehensive reports on the circumstances surrounding their mysterious deaths.
Arrest and detention
The petitioner’s sons had published scripture and religious literature in Urdu Bazaar, Lahore, and went missing in November 2007 after they were taken to a police station.
When Rohifa moved the Lahore High Court for the release of her sons, she learnt they had been booked under the Anti Terrorism Act. They were acquitted by an Anti-Terrorist Court, Rawalpindi, in all the cases, on April 8, 2010.
However, before they could be released, the home department secretary extended their detention on May 6, 2010, for another 90 days under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.
The detention orders were set aside by the Lahore High Court, Rawapindi Bench on May 28, 2010. However, on May 29, 2010, the Rawalpindi jail superintendent, instead of releasing the detainees, handed them, along with 8 others, over to the intelligence agencies.
When the matter came up for hearing in the Supreme Court under the missing persons case on December 9, the directors general of the ISI and MI conceded that the detainees were in their custody.
The advocate-general also submitted a reply on June 2, 2011, stating that the detainees were formally arrested in the first week of April, 2011 and a case had been registered under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 26th, 2012.
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