The capital police have claimed there was no evidence to suggest that the judge killed during last Monday’s gun-and-bomb attack on the Islamabad district courts was shot from long range by one of the armed attackers.
The evidence, the police said, corroborates earlier claims by the authorities that Additional District and Sessions Judge Rafaqat Awan was accidentally shot by his own official gunman, Babar Hussain.
The police have already arrested Hussain, a police security division official deputed for Awan’s security since January. On Friday, an anti-terrorism court in Islamabad sent Hussain on physical remand for three days.
Conversely, the police claims about the cause of Awan’s death were largely being viewed as attempts to cover up a major security lapse in the capital, which led to the killing of 11 other people.
The brazen attack, in which unidentified armed men entered the district courts in broad daylight and terrorised the legal and judicial community with gunfire, hand grenade attacks and two suicide bomb blasts, also witnessed a slow response from the police.
The police issued a note on Saturday with details of evidence recovered from Awan’s chamber. The bullets that fatally injured the judge were allegedly shot from official revolver number 522228D, issued on January 23, according to the police.
The armed assailants who perpetrated the attack were believed to have used automatic weapons and AK-47s, according to initial investigations.
“There is no evidence of any distant gunshot of Kalashnikov 7.62 mm (used by terrorists) in the courtroom, on the door of the chamber or any wall inside the chamber,” the police statement said.
In the note, the police said the judge was shot inside the chamber and there was no blood trail to indicate he entered the chamber in an injured state.
The police claimed there was proof of only four gunshots fired inside the judge’s chamber: a contact shot on the door which suggests an entry size smaller than a 7.62 bullet, a shot from a revolver on the wooden wall of the chamber fired from inside, and two shots on the judge’s body.
The entry wound on Awan’s left forearm caused two injuries, the police said.
According to the police, the chest wound, which proved fatal, left a blackened mark on Awan’s vest, indicating a close-range shot. The police seem to have deduced that shot was from a small firearm, not a Kalashnikov, without sharing the sizes of all entry and exit wounds.
Three empty shells and a slug (lead-covered projectile) have been recovered from the crime scene, the police said in the statement. The official revolver of gunman Hussain, along with the shells and slug, has been dispatched to the National Forensic Science Agency for analysis.
Sources have claimed that Hussain denied the allegations that he accidentally shot the judge during an anti-terrorism court hearing on Friday.
Meanwhile, senior police officials would not comment on the investigation into the incident.
Forensic analysis of the blast site inside the courts compound had earlier revealed that the attackers used pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) in their suicide vests along with RDX and TNT. According to sources, previous suicide attacks in the capital had only used RDX and TNT, not PETN.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2014.