ISLAMABAD, Jan 21: The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) will initiate its own investigation into Kamran Faisal’s mysterious death if the bureau officials are not satisfied with the probe being conducted by a judicial commission formed by the government on Sunday.
“We will reject findings of the commission if colleagues of Kamran Faisal are not satisfied with it,” NAB Chairman Admiral (retd) Fasih Bokhari was quoted as saying at a marathon audio/video conference and meeting with senior officials of the bureau on the death of the NAB assistant director.
Kamran Faisal, 35, who was investigating the Rs22 billion rental power projects (RPP) scam, was found hanging from the ceiling fan in his official residence in Federal Lodges on Friday.
His death came three days after the Supreme Court ordered the arrest of Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and 15 others in connection with the RPP scam. He was reportedly under tremendous pressure and had requested the apex court to detach him from the investigation.
NAB spokesman Zafar Iqbal said the meeting had been held against the backdrop of countrywide protest by NAB officials on the death of their colleague. They rejected the judicial commission headed by Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal.
The NAB officials suspended work and held demonstrations outside the bureau’s regional headquarters in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta. They raised slogans of “Judicial commission Namanzoor” and “It’s not a suicide, but a murder”.
They called for a new commission headed by a serving judge of the Supreme Court to investigate the murder.
“We believe that Kamran Faisal could not have committed suicide. We have concern over the formation of the commission,” said a bureau official.
In a bid to pacify his angered colleagues, Admiral Bokhari assured them that he would ensure that the inquiry was free, fair, independent and transparent.
Giving details about the conference and the meeting, the spokesman said the NAB chief had assured the officials that the issue of internal inquiry would be addressed after the conclusion of an inquiry by the judicial commission.
“If the inquiry is not done satisfactorily, NAB can, and will, institute its own inquiry/investigation into the matter,” Admiral Bokhari said. He held a meeting with officials of Rawalpindi NAB at the bureau’s headquarters and later exchanged views with senior officials in the regional headquarters through audio/video conferencing.
Some 50 officials of grade-16 and above took part in the discussion.
The meeting decided that one NAB officer would be assigned to each police investigation team. “I assure all officers that their personal security is my prime responsibility. Investigation officers will be given training to use small arms so that they can defend themselves,” the NAB chief said.
He said his doors were open to all employees and he could be approached at any time. “In case of any threat or pressure, the investigation officer will be changed on request as was done in the case of Kamran Faisal,” he said.
The meeting decided that investigations into the RPP scam would remain suspended till the conclusion of the inquiry into Faisal’s death.
Some TV channels reported that medicine prescriptions of four different doctors had been found from the room of Mr Faisal and, therefore, their statements will be recorded.
Faisal’s father Abdul Hameed Chaudhry rejected the medical report suggesting that he had committed suicide and requested Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to take suo motu notice over his son’s mysterious death. “My son could not have committed suicide. I believe that he was murdered because his body had clear marks of torture,” he said in a private TV channel.
INVESTIGATION: Police investigators have not established as yet whether it was suicide or murder. They are looking into an aspect that apart from 16 accused in the RPP case, who else could benefit from Faisal’s death.
“Who could be the beneficiary if the victim did not commit suicide but was murdered,” a police source said.
The investigators are also waiting for forensic and histopathology reports, which are expected to be issued in a week. However, they were of the opinion that there was only a slim chance that the reports would be helpful in ascertaining the cause of death.
The autopsy report had suggested that the victim was strangulated. He had breathed his last 15 to 20 hours before the autopsy was carried out in a hospital, sources said. The autopsy was conducted at 7.30pm and he died between 11.30pm on Jan 17 to 4.30am on Jan 18.
An expert on medico-legal reports said a question remained unanswered if Mr Faisal had hanged himself or someone else had done this.
An investigator told Dawn that chemical examination of any deceased only detected poison or any intoxicating substance if found in the body, but it was impossible to determine whether the victim had taken any such substance himself or someone else had given it to him.
As far as the histopathology test is concerned, he said, it could also not determine if the victim had strangulated himself or someone else had done this.
STATEMENTS: A police team sent to Faisal’s native town, Mian Channu, recorded statements of the victim’s family, including his father.
Hameed Chaudhry told police that he knew nothing about the circumstances which had led to his son’s death. He turned down a request by police to interview Faisal’s widow on the grounds that his family was religious, according to police sources.
Police also recorded statements of a NAB official and staff of Federal Lodges-II, including caretaker, receptionist, kitchen staff and two watchmen.
They denied having seen Mr Faisal returning to his lodge from the office. They also said they had not seen any person visiting the victim’s house when he was living there.
The NAB official said in his statement that Mr Faisal had left for his residence at about 8.30pm on the last day in his office on Jan 17.
But the watchmen and the receptionist said they had not seen the victim coming to the residence on that day. They informed police that no one had come to meet Mr Faisal that day.