ISLAMABAD: A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court on Tuesday gave the government a final deadline of Dec 5 to produce the 33 'missing persons' said to be in the custody of the armed forces.
The bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Jawwad S. Khawaja and Justice Amir Hani Muslim, also gave a final warning to the Inspector General (IG) of the Frontier Corps (FC) paramilitary force to appear in court on Thursday or face contempt of court proceedings.
During proceedings on Tuesday, acting Defence Secretary, retired Maj Gen Raja Arif Nazir presented a report in court according to which the whereabouts of three of the 33 missing persons had been ascertained.
On Monday, the defence secretary had informed the court about the death of two of the 35 detainees the court had initially ordered to be produced.
It was the first time the government had accepted that some of those reported missing for years were not only in the custody of armed forces, at least a couple of them have died in detention under unexplained circumstances.
Visibly disturbed by the information, the apex court called it a “custodial killing” for which the agencies concerned would be held responsible.
The defence secretary told the bench that out of the three missing men identified, one named Habibullah had departed the country from Peshawar on Dec 18, 2012.
The other two, who were requested not be named, have already been released, said Nazir.
When the chief justice inquired about one Yasin Shah, the defence secretary replied that he was yet to be located but efforts were underway to ascertain his whereabouts.
The IG of the Frontier Corps once again refused to appear in court, after which the court gave him a final warning to appear in court on Thursday or face contempt of court charges.
The court also ordered the IG to submit a list of names of FC officers who were involved in cases of 'missing persons' and enforces disappearances.
Accepting the attorney general's plea for more time, the court adjourned the hearing until Thursday, Dec 5.