ISLAMABAD: The counsel for military intelligence agencies in the Adiala prisoner deaths case conceded before the Supreme Court on Monday that four of the 11 prisoners had died, but claimed that they were natural deaths.
“The other seven prisoners are at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar and at Parachinar,” Raja Muhammad Irshad, who is representing the directors-general of Inter-Services Intelligence and Military Intelligence agencies, said and added that he will not be able to produced them before the court.
The suspects were charged for involvement in the attack on the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters in October 2009 and the one on the ISI’s Hamza Camp. The prisoners were picked up by intelligence agencies from Adiala Jail.
But despite the counsel’s assertion that the prisoners had died of natural causes, the court was not swayed and asked him to not only file a reply to explain the circumstances under which the four men died but also produce the other seven men before the court on February 9.
The three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez, also directed Irshad to file a reply to allegations levelled against his clients [the respondents]. He was also directed that, in the meantime, he should arrange for relatives to meet the hospitalised prisoners. The court also repeated the notices to the attorney-general of Pakistan and the advocate-general of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
At the outset of the hearing, Irshad sought more time to submit a reply. To a query by the court, the counsel contended that now these prisoners were not in custody of intelligence agencies and had been handed over to the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government. He asked the court to order the provincial government to produce these prisoners.
But the chief justice said that intelligence agencies had taken the 11 prisoners from jail, and therefore they must produce them. The bench noted that on January 6, 2011, a statement was filed in court that 11 people, who were initially incarcerated in the Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, were taken into custody to be tried under the Army Act.
When Justice Khilji Arif Hussain noted that the prisoners’ bodies had been thrown on the road for collection, Irshad said that this was not true and that the allegation was ‘painful’. Talking about the hospitalised prisoners, Irshad said that they were not in a position to be brought to court.
The petitioner, filed by a woman named Rohifa, has prayed to court for provision of ‘due process of law’ to her three sons Syed Abdus Saboor, Syed Abdul Basit and Syed Abdul Majid who were picked up by intelligence officials for their alleged role in the attacks. The petitioner, through her counsel Tariq Asad, has made the ISI and MI chiefs, the judge advocate-general and the relevant army commanding officer as respondents.
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