KARACHI: A sessions court on Saturday fixed March 21 for the indictment of suspects on different charges in the Baldia garment factory fire case.

Owner of the industrial unit Abdul Aziz Bhaila, his two sons Arshad Bhaila and Shahid Bhaila, factory general manager Mansoor and three gatekeepers were booked in the 2012 fire incident that left 258 workers dead.

During the previous hearing, the court had issued a warrant for the arrest of police investigating officer Jahanzeb over his absence.

When the case came up for hearing before additional district and sessions judge (west) Naushaba Kazi on Saturday, a senior police officer produced the IO in court. The IO through a written apology stated that he could not attend the previous hearing due to his poor health and also submitted a report on the statements of the prosecution witnesses recorded under Section 161 of the criminal procedure code.

Earlier, the supply of prosecution papers as required under Section 265-C (supply of statements and documents to accused) of the CrPC to the suspects was partly done and the prosecution provided the remaining documents to them on Saturday.

While adjourning the hearing till March 21 for indictment, the court directed the suspects to ensure their presence in court during the next hearing and asked the Bhaila brothers through their counsel to submit medical certificates over their absence.

The case took a dramatic turn when a report prepared by a joint investigation team was submitted in the Sindh High Court on Feb 6. According to the JIT report, suspect Rizwan Qureshi claimed that he was a Muttahida Qaumi Movement worker and disclosed that some party workers had allegedly carried out the arson attack after the factory failed to pay extortion money.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2015

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