A three-member review board of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday directed the police to release Zubair, alias Nek Muhammad, the alleged mastermind of the 2009 attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, denying further extension in the detention period.
The review board issued the order due to a lack of incriminating evidence against the accused.
Appearing before the board, Punjab police chief Khan Baig submitted that Zubair’s release could be dangerous for peace. He said that there were intelligence reports of terrorist attacks on jails to secure the release of hardened criminals who could support such activities, and therefore requested the committee to extend his detention for two months.
However, the board, headed by Justice Nasir Saeed Sheikh, and comprising Justice Sheikh Najamul Hassan and Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, denied the plea as there was “no solid proof of his involvement in the attack”.
Zubair was brought to the Lahore High Court in an armoured personnel carrier and a large number of security personnel were deployed on the premises.
Counsel for the accused said the police did not have any proof of his client’s involvement in the Sri Lankan team attack and that was the reason why Zubair had been granted bail by a subordinate court. He also alleged that his client was being victimised.
Zubair was arrested in June 2009 for allegedly planning the brazen terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, after which he was released on bail by an anti-terrorism court. At the time of his arrest, investigators had said that a local unit of the Taliban had attacked the team.
However, after Zubair was released, government authorities again detained him under Section 3 of the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order (MPO) for three months. After the three-month period expired, the review board had extended his detention by a month on August 30. Now that the period of detention has again expired, the review board has ordered his release on lack of evidence.
Earlier, on August 2, a judge of the LHC had refused to hear an appeal filed by the government against the bail granted to him. However, on Tuesday, LHC Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial constituted a special division bench comprising Justice Shahid Hameed Dar and Justice Yawar Ali Shah to hear an appeal moved by the Punjab Prosecution Department seeking cancellation of bail.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 2nd, 2013.