KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court on Saturday released three suspects in the Shershah scrap market attack case on interim relief due to lack of evidence against them.
The suspects - Lal Muhammad Magsi, Shafi Muhammad and Aslam Pervez, believed to be members of a notorious gang in Lyari - were charged with attacking the city's largest scrap market over an extortion dispute in October 2010, killing at least 12 people and wounding a dozen others.
ATC-I judge Bashir Ahmed Khoso, who heard the case at length, pronounced the release of the three men for three years against a surety bond of Rs100,000 from each of them. In the meantime, the prosecution will be given another chance to bring eyewitnesses before the court.
During the four-year trial, the prosecution had produced 26 witnesses in court but none of them could identify the suspects. The prosecution had contended that key witnesses had gone into hiding while others were not testifying against the suspects due to fear for their safety.
Giving the unusual judgment, the court observed that the accused will stand acquitted if the prosecution fails to bring forward any witnesses against them within the stipulated period.
The court had reserved its verdict in the case about a year ago after recording evidence and hearing final arguments from both the sides.
The case was registered under Sections 302 (premeditated murder), 324 (attempted murder), 386 (extortion) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code, read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, at the Pak Colony police station on the complaint of a survivor of the attack.
In 2011, an administrative judge of the ATCs had released nine other suspects in the case under Section 497(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure since the complainant had failed to recognise any of them before the court.
The absconders in the case include gangster Noor Muhammad alias Baba Ladla, Hameed alias Mallu Raju, Rasheed and Imdad.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 5th, 2015.