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KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Wednesday sentenced eight men to life imprisonment in a kidnapping for ransom case.

The eight men — Mumtaz Hussain, Nisar Ahmed, Mustafa alias Nadir, Ghulam Sarwar, Shahbaz alias Khurram, Abdul Rasheed, Abdul Razzaque and Nisar — were found guilty of kidnapping Javed Abbsi, the brother of a local businessman, from near Kathore on Aug 28, 2013 and releasing him later after taking a ransom of over Rs1.5 million.

The ATC-XV judge, who conducted the trial in the judicial complex inside the Karachi central prison, pronounced her judgement after recording evidence and final arguments from both sides.

The court observed that the prosecution had enough evidence to prove the involvement of the accused persons in the offence of kidnapping.

The judge added that right from the beginning during the evidence of the prosecution witnesses no proper defence plea was taken by the accused during their cross-examination.

The judge found that no reason of false implication of the accused persons at the hands of the complainant, the victim and other prosecution witnesses was brought on record by simply saying that whatever stated by prosecution witnesses was incorrect.

“Most of the accused persons took the plea that they were arrested by the officials of the AVCC and due to non-payment of bribe to the officials they were implicated in the present cases,” the order said, adding that the accused did not say anything against the victim, the complainant or any other prosecution witness, who had deposed against them in court.

However, the court gave the accused “benefit of doubt” and acquitted them in five identical cases registered by the Anti-Violent Crime Cell (AVCC) pertaining to alleged recovery of illicit weapons.

The judge noted that Assistant Sub-Inspector Muhammad Moosa Brohi who arrested the accused and allegedly recovered unlicensed weapons from them and Constable Imran Ali who witnessed the alleged recovery had failed to identify the accused persons properly, which put “serious dents” on the prosecution story.

The court order stated that no report of a ballistic examination of the recovered weapons was produced as well. According to the prosecution, complainant Riaz Hussain lodged an FIR at the Memon Goth police station stating that his brother Javed Abbasi, a broker of chaff, went to collect an amount of Rs59,000 from a client in Gulshan-i-Hadeed on Aug 27, 2013. He was kidnapped on Superhighway while heading to Kathore via Link Road on his motorcycle.

The case was registered under Sections 365-A (kidnapping for ransom), 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997. The investigation was subsequently transferred to the AVCC.

During the trial, the victim identified the accused as the same persons who had kidnapped him and kept in their custody for about 31 days.

The complainant also confirmed to have paid over Rs1.5 million to the kidnappers as ransom for the release of his brother.

Published in Dawn, September 13th, 2018