KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court sentenced on Thursday a man said to be affiliated with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan to 14 years in prison after convicting him of taking extortion from a vegetable trader.
According to the prosecution, Ammaduddin was caught 'red-handed' in January last year after he collected protection money from the complainant, Khameeso, who is a middleman at the city's fruit and vegetable wholesale market. He was accompanied by two of his accomplices, who managed to flee, when police surrounded them off at the crime scene.
Khameeso had lodged complaint with the police that he was being threatened by some unidentified men over the phone for extortion. He told the police that the callers identified themselves as members of the TTP and were demanding Rs1 million in protection money. After negotiations, they agreed to take Rs250,000.
On January 13, 2014, Khameeso was asked to come to a deserted Janjal Goth area of Malir along with the money. The then SHO of Site Super Highway police station, Rana Haseeb Ahmed, advised him to take Rs30,000 in an envelope instead of the negotiated amount.
When the complainant reached, he saw three men riding on a motorcycle approach him. When they got closer, one of the rider got off and pulled out his pistol. As they were trying to escape after taking away the cash, the police rounded them off. Though the charge sheet stated that it was around 5pm and the sky was still light, two suspects managed to flee.
Two witnesses, including the complainant and his accountant, were presented before the trial court to record their testimonies. The police team that conducted the raid also recorded their statements.
On the other hand, the suspect pleaded innocent contending that he was falsely implicated in the case for his enmity with the SHO. Ammaduddin told the judge that the police officer settled scores with him by implicating him in the case.
He narrated that, in May 2012, he along with other men had protested against the SHO for his biased action against his cousin, Burhanuddin. According to him, his cousin had a developed a dispute with his landlord, Sajid, over the rent of the shop he was possessing. The landlord called in the SHO and got his tenant out of the shop forcefully damaging the inventory. Burhanuddin went to court against the alleged maltreatment and subsequently the SHO was suspended.
The suspect claimed that the police officer picked him up from the vegetable market where he worked as a transporter and later booked him in the case.
After conducting the one-and-a half-year-long trial, the court found that the suspect failed to bring up any evidence that could prove his claim. Based on the evidences put before him, the ATC-V judge, Jawaid Alam, convicted Ammaduddin of the offences. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison for possessing an unlicensed weapon.
In the extortion case, he was awarded a five years jail term. He was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs 100,000, which if he fails to pay he would undergo an additional nine-month imprisonment.
Since the judge observed that both the sentences will run concurrently, only the longest jail term will be counted as the total imprisonment time.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2015.