PESHAWAR: An anti-terrorism court here on Saturday acquitted nine persons on the charge of helping commanders of Daesh militant outfit.
Judge Mehmoodul Hassan accepted the acquittal applications of Hazrat Bilal, Fazal Ahmad, Abdul Aziz, Zahid, Altaf, Abdul Hadi, Hakeemullah, Ameer Jan and Raz Mohammad
Under Section 265-K of Code of Criminal Procedure, the trial court is empowered to acquit an accused at any stage of the trial if there is no probability of him being convicted of any offence in light of the evidence available on record.
The ATC also declared absconders Hayatallah, Qari Nazar and two others proclaimed offenders and issued their perpetual warrants for arrest.
Though the local police and counter-terrorism department highlighted the June 24, 2017, encounter, which continued for many hours, the defence counsel insisted that the case was poorly investigated before its final charge sheet (challan) was submitted to the trial court.
The CTD had assigned different roles to the accused and had claimed that Hazrat Bilal and Fazal Ahmad were owners of the abandoned flour mills, where the members of IS had taken shelter and the encounter had taken place, whereas Altaf and Zahid were the watchmen of the mills.
Accused Abdul Aziz and absconder Hayatullah were charged with providing first aid to an injured accused, Qari Nazar, and helping him to escape to Afghanistan.
Similarly, the other accused were also charged with facilitating and helping terrorists.
Following the occurrence that took place on the Arsalan Flour Mills Dalazak Road, the law-enforcement agencies claimed to have recovered a huge quantity of explosives, suicide jackets and arms and ammunition.
The police had identified one of the killed militant as Arif alias commander, whereas the identity of the second militant had not been disclosed.
However, some officials believed that the second militant was Daesh militant outfit commander Mustapha, who was involved in targeted killings of police officials.
Shabbir Hussain Gigyani, lawyer for some accused, said the investigation team had mostly investigated the case on the basis of presumption and so, they hadn’t produced any concrete evidence against his clients.
He said before challan (charge sheet) was submitted, the relevant senior prosecutor had to go through the case file to point out any deficiency in the prosecution case.
The lawyer said it was clear that the prosecutor had asked the investigation team that in its present form, the case would be weak leading to the acquittal of the accused.
Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2018