ISLAMABAD: A civilian facing a court martial under the Army Act on charges of attacking the GHQ and ISI Hamza camp died mysteriously on Friday, a brother of the deceased, told Dawn on Friday.
Abdul Saboor, 29, is the fourth civilian detained in the case to have died in mysterious circumstances over the past six months — Mohammad Aamir died on Aug 15, last year, Tahseen Ullah on Dec 17, and Said Arab on Dec 18.
Their bodies were recovered from the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.
Abdul Saboor’s brother, Mufti Shakoor, said that an unknown caller asked him to collect the body of his brother from the Haji camp in Peshawar.
Saboor had been picked up by intelligence agencies on Nov 25, 2007, along with his younger brothers Abdul Basit and Abdul Majid from Lahore.
According to Mufti Shakoor, who lives in Lahore, the caller initially asked him to go to the Peshawar hospital, but later told him that he would find the body in an ambulance parked near the Haji camp.
Finally, he said, he found the body on the GT Road near the camp. By that time the cellphone of the caller had switched off.
Tariq Asad, a lawyer who had filed a petition in the Supreme Court on behalf of Ms Rohaifa — the mother of three detainees, Abdul Saboor (deceased), Abdul Basit and Abdul Majid — for their recovery, said he had already expressed fears about their unnatural death.
In the petition filed on Jan 6, the ailing mother made an emotional appeal to the Supreme Court to order intelligence agencies to immediately kill her sons and hand over their bodies to her if superior courts could not provide relief to common citizens of the country.
According to Advocate Asad, Saboor died when a petition about his recovery was pending with the Supreme Court, but the court was dealing with matters “more important than the life of a citizen”.
In the petition, Advocate Asad pointed out that the bodies of three detainees who had died earlier during investigation, showed clear signs of acute renal failure (ARF) apparently caused by slow poisoning.
He said military authorities had kept them in illegal confinement and contended that under the Army Act, civilians could be tried only in circumstances gravely affecting the maintenance of discipline in the army.
He requested the court to seek a report on causes of the death of three detainees and record of proceedings against survivors.
It may be mentioned here that the accused — Abdul Basit, Abdul Majid, Dr Niaz Ahmad, Mohammad Aamir, Mazharul Haq, Shafigur Rehman, Mohammad Shafiq, Said Arab, Tahseen Ullah and Gul Roze — were acquitted by the Anti-Terrorism Court in Rawalpindi on April 8, 2008, because the prosecution could not make out a case against them.
But before their release, the Rawalpindi DCO issued a detention order under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance.
On May 6, 2010, it was extended for 90 days by the Punjab home secretary, but it was set aside by the Lahore High Court’s Rawalpindi bench on May 28, 2010.
The Superintendent of Adiyala jail, Saeedulllah Gondal, is reported to have handed over the detainees to ISI and MI.
But in May, 2011, the advocate general informed the apex court that the detainees had been formally arrested in the first week of April and a case under Section 2 (1) (d) of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952, was registered against them.
Raja Mohammad Irshad, the counsel of ISI and MI, told the court that the 11 men were among the 20 suspects taken into custody from operational areas.
He said the men were in the custody of law-enforcement agencies and they had been interrogated for their “close/deep links with terrorists operating in different areas of the country”.
He told the apex court that they were allegedly involved in attacks on ISI’s Hamza Camp, GHQ, defence installations, explosions at various places, killing of a three-star general and several other army personnel and civilians.
In August 2011, when the court was hearing a petition for the recovery of the three brothers, the Military Intelligence told the court that the detainees were in their custody and they had been kept “in accordance with the law”.
The military authorities also arranged meetings of the detainees with their family.
According to Mufti Abdul Baais and Mufti Abdul Shakoor their detained brothers had been brutally tortured and they could not stand because their legs were swollen.
Advocate Colonel (reted) Inamur Rahim, another counsel of the detainees, said he had also filed a human rights application in the Supreme Court for their recovery.
“I will try to take other like-minded lawyers on board on this particular issue because it is possible that the remaining seven detainees might experience the same fate,” he said.