SC orders production of 14 missing persons in court tomorrow

Published December 6, 2013
Federal Minister for Defence, Water & Power Khawaja Asif waving toward the media persons upon return after a hearing of Missing Persons Case at Supreme Court of Pakistan.
— Photo by Online
Federal Minister for Defence, Water & Power Khawaja Asif waving toward the media persons upon return after a hearing of Missing Persons Case at Supreme Court of Pakistan. — Photo by Online

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Friday ordered Defence Minister Khawaja Asif to produce 14 of the 35 ‘missing persons’ in court tomorrow and the remaining on Dec 9, DawnNews reported.

A three-member bench of the apex court headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, expressed its dissatisfaction over a report submitted by the defence minister which listed details of the missing persons.

According to the report, seven persons were released, another two had died and only two persons were held up in detention centres. Out of the remaining, three were present in Waziristan tribal region, another had left the country for Saudi Arabia and eight had crossed the border into neighbouring Afghanistan.

The whereabouts of seven persons were still unknown, the report added.

When asked about the status of one Yasin Shah, the defence minister replied that his details were also not known.

Earlier this week, the court was provided with details of five of the other missing persons, according to which two had died of natural causes whereas three others had been traced during a ground check.

Moreover, Khawaja told the court today that none of the missing persons were in the custody of the armed forces, upon which the chief justice observed that there was proof of handing over of the missing persons to the army.

//Chief Justice Iftikhar furthermore inquired as to how the 35 persons who were picked up together by military personnel managed to get dispersed.

//He remarked that the information provided to the court was merely speculation and ordered the production of all missing persons in court.

The chief justice added that as per the Constitution of Pakistan, no persons could be detained without being produced in court first. He also inquired as to under which law a detention centre was set up in Malakand division, which is a settled area of the country, adding that an internment centre could not be set up there.

Justice Iftikhar instructed for 14 of the missing persons – including the seven released persons and the other seven whose details were unavailable or were kept in detention centres – to be produced in the chambers of Justice Amir Hani Muslim at 9:30 am on Saturday.

He added that the family of the 14 persons and those who had died in custody should also be present in the chambers.

He further summoned those military officers who had taken away the 35 missing persons to record their statements in front of the bench.

Ataullah, the superintendent of internment centre in Malakand, was also summoned to appear before the court with all relevant records of the detainees.

The bench adjourned the hearing until Dec 9 and said that a verdict would be issued on the case the same day.

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