PESHAWAR: A local anti-terrorism court on Saturday acquitted chief of the banned Tehreek Nifaz-i-Shariah Mohammadi Maulana Sufi Mohammad and around 30 of his associates in two more terrorism cases.
The cases were about attacks on a Frontier Corps convoy and a Swat police station around 19 years ago.
However, Sufi Mohammad will continue to be behind bars for facing two more cases.
TNSM chief will stay behind bars for facing more cases
Judge Abdur Rauf Khan accepted applications of Maulana Sufi Mohammad and other accused under Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers the court to acquit the accused in a case before conclusion of trial if there is lack of evidence against him.
The trial of Sufi Mohammad in different terrorism cases have been conducted inside the Peshawar Central Prison for security reasons.
He has been kept in that prison since his arrest in 2009 when final phase of military operation against militants was launched in Malakand region.
Until now, Sufi Mohammad and several of his associates have been acquitted by the anti-terrorism court in 10 cases of terrorism.
Now, trial in only two cases against him are pending.
One of the two cases is about sedition over a speech at Grassy Ground Swat in Feb 2009 when the government had made a deal with him for restoration of peace in Malakand region.
Adil Majeed, lawyer for Sufi Mohammad, said no evidence had so far been recorded against his client in both cases.
He said none of the prosecution witnesses who appeared in the cases had so far deposed against Sufi Mohammad and that there was no possibility of his conviction.
The lawyer requested the court to accept his client’s two applications saying further proceedings will be waste of time only.
Jawed Ali, lawyer for other accused, said their clients were falsely implicated in the cases.
Both cases were registered at the Khwazakhela police station in 1995.
In one case, Sufi Mohammad, another TNSM leader Maulana Khalid and hundreds of his supporters were charged with attacking the police station during which a cop was killed and property was damaged.
In the case, around 30 people faced trial, whereas the police had charged 400-500 TNSM members.
In the other case, the police had charged TNSM activists with attacking a convoy of FC and the subsequent killing of a soldier and injuring of several others.
The police had charged Sufi Mohammad with masterminding that attack. In both cases, Sufi Mohammad and his supporters were also charged with hatching conspiracy against the state and inciting people to violence.
Most cases against Sufi Mohammad were registered in 1994 and afterwards when TNSM had stepped up its movement for Shariah enforcement in Malakand division.
However, the successive governments didn’t try him in those cases and thus, resulting in legal complications: witnesses and co-accused of some cases had either died or were not traceable due to passage of so many years.
The earlier cases in which Sufi Mohammad was acquitted pertained to hatching conspiracy against the state, attack against government installations, including police stations, in parts of Swat over 18 years ago, speech in which public was incited to violence against the then rulers, including retired general Pervez Musharraf.
Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2014