A murky picture: SHO, investigation officer suspended over custodial death

Yasir Khan died after allegedly facing ‘third degree torture’

Our Correspondent July 09, 2015
Yasir Khan died after allegedly facing ‘third degree torture’ PHOTO: PAKISTANTRIBUNE


Dunga Gali SHO Munawar Khan and investigation officer Zahir Shah have been suspended till the probe into the death of a man in police custody is completed. 

Yasir Khan died on July 5 at Dunga Gali police station after allegedly facing “third degree” torture. Third degree interrogation refers to torturing suspects during interrogation to coerce information or a confession. However, the police have denied these claims and insisted he died of a cardiac arrest.

Speaking to The Express Tribune on Wednesday, Galiyat Circle DSP Arif Javed Khan said the district judge also ordered a judicial enquiry into the incident. “Tilah Khan, a senior civil judge, has been appointed to investigate the matter,” he said. “The SHO and investigation officer have been suspended until the enquiry is completed.”

Cause of death

According to the DSP, Yasir was not tortured and they are trying to ascertain the cause of death.

“We have sent his stomach content samples for a chemical analysis,” he added.

The DSP said Yasir was among the three men who had stolen a car from Capital Hotel in Nathiagali on June 21. “Through CCTV footage, we were able to identify Yasir and his accomplices, Abbas and Mazhar,” he said. “They were subsequently arrested.”

He added that a two-day police remand had been obtained against Yasir from the court of judicial magistrate on July 5.

“At around 4:30pm that day, the deceased complained of a searing pain in his chest to the investigation officer,” Arif Javed said. “Yasir was taken to a hospital where he was examined by a doctor who prescribed medication for him”

Yasir was brought back to the police station at 6:30pm. According to the DSP, he was found dead by guards who were at his cell to take him for iftar.

“The DPO and district judge constituted a medical board to conduct his post-mortem at Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Teaching Hospital,” said Arif Javed. “According to a report provided by the board, Yasir’s body does not bear a single torture mark.”

Custodial abuse?

However, Waleed Khan, the deceased’s brother and a resident of Mohallah Salhad, insists Yasir had endured third degree torture.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Waleed said his brother had been taken into police custody on June 28.

“We were told by the SHO that Yasir was taken in for interrogation and would be sent back,” he said. “However, the police detained him and did not let him see us.”

On July 4, Waleed filed a petition to ensure his brother’s recovery. However, when a bailiff visited Dunga Gali police station, the police refused to confirm Yasir’s arrest and subsequent detention.

“A day later, we were told Yasir had died of a heart attack,” said Waleed. “I don’t believe the police’s account of my brother’s death. I blame the police for illegally detaining my brother for over a week and subjecting him to cruel and inhuman treatment.”

Shadow of doubt

According to Waleed, his brother was healthy and physically fit and could not have died of cardiac arrest.  “I am convinced that the police used third degree torture on him,” he said.

“Yasir was tortured with electric shocks. I don’t believe the autopsy report. While giving him ghusl (bath), I saw burn marks on his back. There was a hole in his right ear and a finger on his right hand was fractured. There were bruises on his neck, shoulders and knees.” The deceased’s brother added the autopsy report does not mention a cause of death.

“My brother was not a criminal,” he said. “If the police had any evidence against him, it should have been brought before the court.”

Waleed vowed to take his brother’s assailants to task. He urged the chief justice of the Peshawar High Court and IGP to conduct an independent enquiry.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Nehmat Khan, an activist affiliated with Human Development Organisation, condemned the incident and demanded a probe be conducted by a high court judge and independent forensic experts. He also vowed to provide legal assistance for Yasir’s family.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2015. 


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