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The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of 21-year-old Muhammad Adnan who was arrested 11 years ago when he was caught trafficking drugs — at the age of 10.

A three-member bench headed by Justice Gulzar Ahmed and comprising of Justice Qazi Faez Isa and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah heard the case for the acquittal of Muhammad Adnan.

During the hearing, lawyer Malika Saba and Advocate Khawaja Mohammad Syed told the court that the prosecutors had accused a 10-year-old boy of trafficking more than 160 killogrammes of drugs.

Adnan was arrested from the Ferozewala area of Sheikhupura on August 8, 2007. Police said that he was travelling in a qingqi rickshaw with over 160 kgs of hash and 180 grams heroin. Other suspects had fled the scene at the time.

According to the lawyers, the police investigator who had found the drugs had said in a statement that the owner of the drugs was a man named Riaz. Muhammad Adnan's name was not mentioned in the statement, argued the lawyers.

The sample of the narcotics was not transferred as per the standard operating procedure and there was an error in the forensic laboratory's report as well, Saba told the court.

Punjab Deputy Prosecutor Abdul Waheed told the court that in the investigation, the issuing of a chalaan two years after the case was registered also gives rise to doubts.

Justice Sajjad Ali Shah said that in light of a past Supreme Court judgement if it cannot be proven that the suspect was in possession of drugs for trafficking, the trial becomes about the acquittal of the accused.

While declaring the juvenile court and the high court's verdicts void, the bench declared that Muhammad Adnan should be released at once.

Outside the court, lawyer Malika Saba said that Adnan had been afflicted with TB and jail officials were taking him for treatment to a hospital in Faisalabad, every week.

She said that the trial court had sentenced Adnan to life imprisonment and slapped on a Rs1 million fine when he was 13-year-old.

Saba said that on the March 24, 2014 the Lahore High Court rejected the appeal and upheld the sentence handed to the now 21-year-old. The lawyer added that the sentence was now almost complete.