Fleeing from court: Eight under-trial prisoners escape in one week

Suspect escapes from city courts on Tuesday, caught later by police.

Faraz Khan/rizwan Shehzad July 16, 2013
Police officers inspect the place from where a prisoner escaped from the City Courts on Tuesday. PHOTO: MOHAMMAD SQIB/EXPRESS

KARACHI: A day after the Supreme Court took notice of the under-trial prisoners who escaped from the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) and City Courts within one week, another one managed to extricate himself from the grip of law by fleeing from the courts on Tuesday.

The suspect, Sajjad, had been arrested in connection with a drug case and fled from the city court before the police could take him to the judicial magistrate in district Central, Fida Hussain Abbasi, for his remand. Police later claimed that Sajjad was nabbed in the evening from near his residence.

Investigators have yet to confirm how the suspect left the court’s premises but initial details suggest that Sajjad somehow freed his hands from the handcuffs when allowed to go to the toilet and escaped after scaling a wall.

Sajjad was initially arrested on Sunday when police seized narcotics from his possession in a raid from North Nazimabad. An FIR, No. 285/13, under Sections 6 and 9-B of the Control of Narcotic Substances Act, 1997, was registered against him at the Sharae Noor Jahan police station.

The incident being the third of its kind in only one week has left the City Courts police in a tough spot. City Courts SHO Mohammed Iqbal, who was suspended following Sajjad’s escape, put the blame on the policemen who were escorting the suspect in court. “The courts’ police was not responsible for his escape. It was negligence on part of the policemen escorting Sajjad which led to his escape,” said SHO Iqbal, adding that the ongoing investigation would determine if the policemen helped the prisoner escape or not.  Two police officials of the City Courts police station, Qaiser Farooq and Mushtaq, however, have been arrested. Farooq was assigned patrolling while Mushtaq was deployed at district Central.

Two other policemen, Abid Ali and Talat Mehmood, who accompanied the suspect, were also arrested, and the City Courts police registered a case against them for their negligence. The FIR, No. 63/13, has been registered under sections 223 (escape from confinement of custody negligently suffered by public servant), 224 (resistance or obstruction by a person to his lawful apprehension), 225-A (omission to apprehend, or sufferance of escape, on part of public servant), of the Pakistan Penal Code.

Strike three

The incident on Tuesday follows a string of escapes from court which have taken place in July - three inmates belonging to a Lyari gang escaped on Thursday from the ATC and later on Saturday, two terrorists of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, allegedly involved in bomb attacks at the offices of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, escaped when they were being taken back from the city courts to the armoured personnel carrier of the Crime Investigation Department police. On the same day, a man and his son arrested for fraud also escaped from the city courts.

Six CID officials have been arrested in connection with the escapes from city courts while separate inquires are also being conducted.

City Police Chief Ghulam Qadir Thebu has already been warned that the policemen would be dismissed from service if found guilty or involved in the prisoners’ escape.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 17th, 2013.