PESHAWAR: An anti-terrorism court on Wednesday acquitted six alleged terrorists, including a woman, on the charge of facilitating an attack on the Peshawar Agriculture Training Institute in 2017, which had killed nine people.

Judge Mehmoodul Hassan ruled that the prosecution failed to prove its case against the accused, including Fazal Tawab and his wife Sher Bano, Mohammad Ibrahim, Yasir, Saeedullah and Owais, while the evidence on record didn’t connect them with the commission of the offence.

On Dec 1, 2017, three armed terrorists had stormed the ATI on University Road before targeting students living in the hostel.

There followed a gun battle between attackers and law-enforcement agencies that left the former dead.

The police had claimed of have seized two suicide jackets, two kalashnikovs, pistols and explosives.

They later held the six accused on the charge of facilitating, harbouring and abetting attackers and claimed that the terrorists used a rickshaw provided by the accused.

The police insisted that both attackers and facilitators belonged to the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan.

Shabbir Hussain Gigyani, Tafseel Khan Afridi, Asfandyar Khan and Gul Hussain Khilji, counsel for the accused, insisted that the prosecution didn’t have any evidence to link their clients with the terrorist attack.

They said the prosecution first claimed that the attackers were unidentified and later insisted that the attackers used a Paharipura house owned by accused Fazal Tawab.

The lawyers said the prosecution claimed that Fazal Tawab and his wife had harboured those attackers, while the other accused also visited the residence and had participated in chalking out the plan to attack the ATI.

They said even after securing the records of cellphones used by the accused, the prosecution didn’t produce any tangible evidence to prove that the accused had remained in contact with someone in Afghanistan or any other place.

The lawyers said the entire prosecution case was based on statements allegedly recorded by investigating officers, while there was no judicial confession by any of the six accused.

They added that an accused could not be convicted merely on basis of allegations not supported by solid evidence.

The state prosecutor claimed that the prosecution had proved its case and that the accused had confessed to their crime before police in custody.

He said the attackers had killed innocent students at the institute, so their facilitators didn’t deserve any leniency.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2019

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