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KARACHI: Four days after a huge fire broke out in a malkhana (storehouse of cases’ properties) located on the premises of the City Courts, destroying important evidence in thousands of criminal trial cases’ properties, special teams of bomb and forensic experts on Sunday removed the debris from the fire spot, said head of one of the probe teams.

DIG of Karachi-South Zone Azad Khan told Dawn that members of the Bomb Disposal Squad and forensic teams cleared the debris on Sunday. He said that three teams of bomb experts belonging to police, Rangers and Pakistan Army took part in the work.

Case properties, which were identifiable, were separated from non-identifiable or destroyed properties.

Electric material has also been collected from the place of the fire to be analysed by electrical experts to ascertain whether the electric short circuit triggered the blaze in early hours of Wednesday or some other cause set off the blaze.

The DIG said that a team of forensic experts from Punjab had collected samples from the debris, examined the spot besides watching the CCTV footage of the fire incident.

Mr Khan said that they were waiting for the report of Punjab’s forensic experts to ascertain the exact cause of the fire as these experts had been specially trained from abroad in determining the reason for arson acts.

The senior police officer said that KMC’s Fire Brigade Department and Electrical Department had yet to submit their respective reports about the fire.

He said that the Fire Brigade department lacked required expertise in ascertaining the cause of fire, therefore, investigators were mostly relying on Punjab’s forensic experts to know the exact reason for the fire.

A portion of the British-era building, particularly those housing case properties and evidence of South and East districts, has been declared dangerous and not useable as its pillars had been weakened by the impact of the fire.

Mr Khan, who is leading the police team to determine the cause of the fire, said they had decided to make makeshift arrangements in City Courts for storing case properties of the two affected districts while case properties of West and Central districts had remained intact in the fire incident.

Important evidence in thousands of criminal trial cases and case properties were destroyed in a huge fire that broke out in a malkhana (storehouse of case properties) located on the premises of the City Courts on April 11.

As police investigators were sceptical about the exact cause of the mysterious fire, the Karachi Bar Association had demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident, saying the cases of the prosecution would suffer irreparable damage in the absence of case properties and benefit the accused parties.

Published in Dawn, April 16th, 2018

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