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Prosecutor seeks murder, terrorism charges against 10 suspects in guest house deaths case

Updated April 24, 2019

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A prosecutor on Tuesday recommended trial of 10 suspects on the charges of murder and terrorism over the death of six members of a family allegedly due to inhaling poisonous gas at a guest house. — Reuters/File
A prosecutor on Tuesday recommended trial of 10 suspects on the charges of murder and terrorism over the death of six members of a family allegedly due to inhaling poisonous gas at a guest house. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: A prosecutor on Tuesday recommended trial of 10 suspects on the charges of murder and terrorism over the death of six members of a family allegedly due to inhaling poisonous gas at a guest house.

Read: Poisonous gas, not food, caused death of six of a family

This recommendation came in a note prepared by state prosecutor Shahid Mahmood Arain after scrutinising the investigation report prepared by the investigating officer in a case pertaining to the death of six members of the family from Quetta visiting the city during their stay at the Qasr-i-Naz government guest house on Feb 22.

Pakistan Public Works Department’s chief engineer Nadeem Akhtar Shaikh, assistant executive engineer Zakir Hussain, overseer Mehram Ali Brohi, controller of the guest house Sikandar Hayat, contractor Sanobar Ahmed Khan, guest house’s caretaker Nisar Ahmed Awan, room waiter Sajjad Hussain, receptionist Abdul Hameed Khan, sweepers Pervaiz Bhatti and Hira Nand have been booked for manslaughter and selling toxic food or drink.

Six members of a family from Quetta died due to inhaling poisonous gas

The prosecutor mentioned that the IO collected the other material, including the footage of the CCTV installed at the guest house, samples from the bodies of the victims and sent the same for a chemical analysis to the HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry, University of Karachi, and the Forensic Science Laboratory, Lahore.

He said the IO recorded statements of the suspects and witnesses, who later also testified before a judicial magistrate. In their statements, the guest house’s staff said they saw some insects in room 58-A and informed the management about it.

Two eyewitnesses — Mohammad Yousaf and Mohammad Arif — disclosed in their statements that at 1pm or 1.30pm on Feb 21 contractor Nisar Ahmed took aluminium phosphide tablets (poison) from the store and kept/applied it in room 58-A without any recommendation or advice of the competent authority or department. He did not mention these facts in record nor did he label the door of the room by adopting proper measures and precautions, the prosecutor wrote.

He further wrote that in the reports of KU’s HEJ Research Institute of Chemistry and the director of the FSL Lahore, it was clearly mentioned that active aluminium phosphide was found in the incriminating articles and viscera of the victims.

The prosecutor said that from the investigation report it appeared that suspect Nisar fumigated the poisonous substance (aluminium phosphide) in the room without necessary precautionary measures.

The act of the receptionist, Abdul Hameed, was also apparent in the crime as he had been informed by two witnesses, sweepers Boota Masih and Vinod, regarding the smell of poisonous material in room 58-A, but he paid no heed to the matter and intentionally ignored it due to which the horrible incident took place.

Mr Arain said the act of the suspects came within the ambit of Section 300 (qatl-i-amd) of the Pakistan Penal Code, adding that after the incident the suspects also tried to destroy the evidence of the offence as was corroborated by three witnesses — Ahmed Hussain, Mohsin and Mohammad Yousaf — from the place of the incident and record of the guest house.

In the scrutiny note, the prosecutor contended that all the suspects were fully involved in the heinous crime, adding that a sense of fear and insecurity had developed in the public, as they avoided staying at Qasr-i-Naz and other guest houses and hotels, which fell within the ambit of Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997, as contended by the IO in the investigation report.

“During the course of investigation, it transpired that the suspects were fully aware that the aluminium phosphide is a poison and very dangerous for human life,” the prosecutor said, adding that “they were neither qualified nor authorised to use and send a written request for demand of the said poison”.

He also pointed out that the suspects had demanded and received a huge quantity of aluminium phosphide tablets (poison) since 2017 to February 2019, but no such record was maintained. “The accused persons used the aluminium phosphide tablets (poison) without any advice of an expert or authority, no precautionary measures were adopted, the room was not sealed or labelled for a requisite time, resultantly a deadly incident took place in which five minors and a [woman] lost their lives,” he added.

The prosecutor concluded that as per the facts, circumstances and material collected by the IO sufficient evidence was available to connect the suspects with the crime, therefore, the charge sheet was filed against the 10 suspects for their trial under Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the PPC and Section 7 (acts of terrorism) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2019