KARACHI: Police on Saturday submitted the final charge sheet in the Regent Plaza fire case stating that the fire safety system in the hotel, installed over 20 years ago, was outdated.

The hotel’s chief executive officer, Muzaffar Baweja, managing director Zubair Baweja, chief security officer retired Major Mohammad Saad, chief engineer Arshad Mughal and supervising engineer Saleem Pervez have been booked for manslaughter after 12 people, including five doctors, were killed and around 80 others were wounded in a huge fire at the hotel on Dec 5, 2016.

The investigation officer, Amir Altaf, filed the final investigation report before the court of a judicial magistrate (south).

The report said that the fire and safety system, installed in the hotel in 1994, had become dysfunctional. Civil defence officials had also not validated the documents produced by the suspects regarding fire-fighting equipment at the hotel.

The police report further said that one operator of the CCTV cameras, who had no idea about fire and safety, was present in the control room at the time of the incident.

The smoke-detection system was installed last year only at the mezzanine and first floors of the hotel, it concluded.

The suspects are on interim pre-arrest bail from a sessions court.

A case was registered against the suspects under Sections 322 (punishment for qatl bis sabab), 337-A (punishment of shajjah), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Saddar police station.

Order on Saleem Shahzad’s bail next month

An antiterrorism court reserved on Saturday its order on the bail application of former Muttahida Qaumi Movement leader Saleem Shahzad in a case pertaining to providing shelter and treatment to alleged terrorists.

The applicant, who was arrested shortly after he landed at Karachi airport on Feb 6, moved the bail plea submitting that he came back from Dubai to surrender himself before the court, but was arrested at the airport.

He submitted that he was also entitled to bail since the court had granted bail to all other accused in this case.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the ATC-II judge reserved the order till March 11.

Meanwhile, the court also issued a notice to the prosecutor for Feb 24 to argue on an application of Karachi Mayor Waseem Akhtar seeking permission to go to Iran on an official visit.

Former federal minister Dr Asim Hussain has been booked for allegedly treating and harbouring suspected terrorists, political militants and gangsters at his hospital. Pak Sarzameen Party president Anis Kaimkhani, Mayor Akhtar, MQM lawmaker Rauf Siddiqui, PPP’s Abdul Qadir Patel, Mr Shahzad and Usman Moazzam of Pasban have been named as co-accused for allegedly asking Dr Asim to treat alleged militants.

Published in Dawn February 19th, 2017

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