ISLAMABAD: One of the key suspects in the judge’s video leak case was given in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for two days soon after his arrest on Wednesday.

The FIA cybercrime wing arrested Mian Tariq Mehmood days after he was named by former accountability court judge Mohammad Arshad Malik for allegedly showing him a “secretly recorded manipulated immoral video in a compromising position”.

The investigation agency produced Tariq Mehmood before civil judge Shaista Kundi and requested the court for his physical remand to investigate the video leak that led to the removal of judge Malik.

The video scandal surfaced on July 6 when Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) vice president Maryam Nawaz at a press conference showed the first purported video statement of judge Malik claiming that he had been pressurised and blackmailed into convicting former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Judge Malik later in an affidavit claimed that Tariq met him in February 2019 and showed him “a secretly recorded manipulated immoral video in a compromising position”. The suspect told him that his video was recorded when he had been serving as additional district and sessions judge in Multan. Due to the alleged immoral video, the judge said, he was blackmailed and was forced to meet PML-N supremo and his son after Nawaz’s conviction. He mentioned in the affidavit that Nasir Butt and Nasir Janjua started pressurising him and blackmailed him to help Nawaz after showing him that “Multani video”.

According to the judge, due to fear of “Multani video” he met Nawaz in Jati Umra on April 6, 2019, Hussain Nawaz in Saudi Arabia on June 1, 2019 and Nasir Butt pressurised him to get his assistance in preparation of grounds for appeals in Al-Azizia and Flagship references.

Judge Malik had convicted the former premier in the Al-Azizia reference and sentenced him to seven years imprisonment on Dec 24, 2018.

After perusing the affidavit, acting chief justice of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) removed judge Malik on July 12. In a letter addressed to the law ministry, the IHC administration stated: “The recent development i.e. releasing of videos, issuing of press release by the registrar accountability court-II Islamabad. And affidavit submitted by the incumbent judge narrating his version (copy enclosed) requires his immediate removal. Therefore, he may be removed/relieved from his duties by the competent authority forthwith so that he can be repatriated to his parent department, i.e. Lahore High Court, Lahore.”

The law ministry, however, instead of repatriating the judge to the Lahore High Court (LHC) started examining legal aspects and withheld it posting to his parent department for the time being.

Published in Dawn, July 18th, 2019