KARACHI: An antiterrorism court was informed by the investigating officer that the alleged shooter and his three accomplices are still “untraceable” even six months after the murder of Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan leader Ali Raza Abidi.
Former lawmaker Abidi was assassinated by motorcyclists near his residence in Defence Housing Authority on Dec 25, 2018.
The Counter-Terrorism Department had booked and arrested four suspects — Mohammad Farooq, Abdul Haseeb, Mohammad Ghazali and Abu Bakar — in the murder case. Their four alleged accomplices — Bilal, Hasnain, Faizan and Ghulam Mustafa, alias Kali Charan — are absconding in the case. It claimed that the suspects belonged to criminals’ gangs operating in Lyari.
Former MNA was gunned down in front of his Defence home on Dec 25, 2018
When the matter came up for hearing before the ATC-XI judge, who is conducting trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, the IO filed a report regarding the execution of the non-bailable warrants issued by the court for the four absconding suspects.
In his report, CTD IO sub-inspector Sawan Khan Abbasi stated that all possible efforts had been made to trace and arrest the four fleeing suspects, who had gone into hiding to avoid arrest.
He further stated that there was no likelihood of arrest of the absconders and recommended that the process of proclamation and attachment of properties of the suspects be initiated, as provided under sections 87 (proclamation of person absconding) and 88 (attachment of properties of person absconding) of the Criminal Procedure Code.
After recording his statement and going through the report, the judge directed the IO to initiate the process of the alleged absconders’ proclamation and attachment of their properties and submit a report on the next date of hearing.
Final charge sheet
According to the prosecution, 46-year-old Abidi, former MNA and leader of a faction of the MQM, was shot dead by suspects riding motorcycles in an attack on his vehicle near his residence in Defence Housing Authority, Phase-V, on Dec 25 last year.
On March 20, IO Abbasi had filed a final investigation report, under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code, charge-sheeting the four detained suspects, said to be members of one of the several criminal gangs operating in Lyari.
The CTD claimed to have arrested Mohammad Farooq, Abdul Haseeb, Mohammad Ghazali and Abu Bakar in March for their alleged involvement in the case and contended that they were affiliated with criminal gangs operating in Lyari.
The IO has shown Bilal, Hasnain, Faizan and Ghulam Mustafa as absconders and placed 12 prosecution witnesses in the charge sheet.
The investigation report stated that two armed motorcyclists, Bilal and Hasnain, followed the former MQM lawmaker. It added that Bilal shot at the victim inside his vehicle at the gate of his bungalow and escaped with Hasnain.
The report further alleged that suspect Faizan provided a weapon used in the commission of the crime, adding that the killer returned the weapon to him two days later.
The IO further mentioned that the pistol, used in the crime, was allegedly seized from Mohammad Farooq while the CDR data of the communication of the detained and absconding suspects with others had been recovered.
The investigating report stated that the suspects tried to set a motorcycle, used in the crime, on fire in a Lyari locality and claimed that the suspects were hitmen as one of the detained persons disclosed that an unidentified man had paid them Rs800,000 for killing the former MNA.
It added that the suspects ‘confessed’ to their involvement before the police in the presence of the complainant of the case. However, the report was silent on whether the suspects were produced before a magistrate for proper confessional statements when they were ‘willing’ to do so.
The IO said that Section 21-I (aid and abetment) of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 was also incorporated in the case, which was initially registered under sections 302 (premeditated murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code at the Gizri police station.
One of the four alleged detained abettors, Abdul Haseeb, has already been granted post-arrest bail in the case while three others have also filed bail pleas in court.
Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2019