The province’s first ever trial via video link concluded on Saturday with an anti-terrorism court (ATC) sentencing a man to 14 years in prison for attempting to blow up a police check post.
On Wednesday, ATC judge Salim Jan Khan heard the trial which saw recording of statements of various people, including the accused, prosecution counsel, judicial magistrate and police officials. He then reserved his judgment for Saturday.
Police officials had arrested Shoaib on April 20 while he was planting around eight kilogrammes of explosives to destroy a check post in Safon, in the jurisdiction of Badhaber police station. It was decided that the accused would not be brought to the ATC from Peshawar Central Prison due to security concerns and the trial would be conducted through a video link.
The court, after hearing arguments from both the prosecution and defence teams, awarded 14 years imprisonment to the accused.
For the first time in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, an ATC conducted trials in a terrorism case through video link, connecting the accused from Peshawar jail to the courtroom with a judge and lawyers present.
One screen with a camera was fixed on one side of the courtroom while a similar one was installed in the jail superintendent’s office where the accused was present.
The accused could see the entire courtroom including the judge, lawyers and the public prosecutor. The reader of the courtroom was able to focus the camera on the person addressing the accused.
On the initial day of the trials, evidence in the case was collected from Badhaber SHO Granullah Khan, prosecuting sub-inspector Ijaz and judicial magistrate Muhammad Ilyas.
A court official said this is the first time such arrangements have been made to conduct a trial as swiftly as possible and avoid transporting suspected militants to the court which is not only dangerous but also results in delays due to security issues.
The official informed the move was made possible with the efforts of Peshawar High Court Justice Yahya Afridi, who is the monitoring judge of all ATCs of the province.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2014.