ATC to record video link testimonies in Baldia fire case on 19th

Updated September 17, 2019

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An antiterrorism court on Monday fixed Sept 19 to record testimonies of the Dubai-based owners of Ali Enterprises through a video link because of security concerns in the Baldia factory fire case. — AFP/File
An antiterrorism court on Monday fixed Sept 19 to record testimonies of the Dubai-based owners of Ali Enterprises through a video link because of security concerns in the Baldia factory fire case. — AFP/File

KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Monday fixed Sept 19 to record testimonies of the Dubai-based owners of Ali Enterprises through a video link because of security concerns in the Baldia factory fire case.

The ATC-VII judge, who is conducting the trial in the judicial complex inside the central prison, also directed the relevant authorities to make arrangements for recording statements of the key eyewitnesses in the case from the Pakistan consulate in Dubai, and adjourned the hearing.

At the outset, special public prosecutor Sajid Mehmood Shaikh said that the Sindh High Court on Sept 13 had dismissed a criminal revision application moved by accused Abdul Rehman, alias Rehman Bhola.

In his plea, Rehman had challenged the ATC’s July 23 order allowing the prosecutor’s plea to record evidence of Arshad Bhaila and his brother Shahid Bhaila, who owned Ali Enterprises, from the Gulf state arguing that they could not return to the country to testify before the court because of reported security threats.

11 suspects charge-sheeted in boy’s lynching case

The court directed the prosecutor to coordinate with all stakeholders to record statements of the factory owners through video link.

Earlier, the prosecutor argued that the trial court had declared the factory owners prosecution witnesses, adding that they had fled abroad and were unable to travel to Pakistan to record their statements in the case due to threats to their lives.

He further said that recording statements of the Bhaila brothers from the Pakistan consulate general in Dubai through video link was necessary to meet the ends of justice and sought directives for the authorities concerned to make arrangements for recording their testimonies.

Prosecutor Shaikh maintained that the prosecution had so far examined 396 witnesses and would rest its side after examining around five other prosecution witnesses, including the Bhaila brothers.

Over 250 workers were burnt alive when a multistorey garment factory building in Baldia Town was set on fire in September 2012.

11 charge-sheeted in lynching case

Police on Monday charge-sheeted 11 suspects for allegedly lynching a teenage robbery suspect, Rehan.

The police booked and detained Daniyal Yousuf, Zubair Anwar Khan, Anas Nazeer and Shariq Ahmed for their alleged torturing Rehan to death in Kokan Housing Society on Aug 17.

The suspects claimed that Rehan was trying to rob a house within the remit of the Bahadurabad police station.

On Monday, when the matter came up before judicial magistrate (East) Rana Saifullah, five detained suspects were produced from the prison.

Six others — Ayaz Ahmed, Umair Anwar Khan, Irfanullah Faqi, Muzaffar Shamim Khan, Shakeeb Ahmed Deshmukh and Munir Zaki — appeared before the court on pre-arrest bail.

The investigating officer filed an interim investigation report, under Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code, through the state prosecutor.

In the report, the IO mentioned that during investigation he visited the place of the incident, recorded the statements of the witnesses under Section 161 of the CrPC, collected evidence, sealed it and sent it to the relevant departments for chemical and forensic analysis.

IO Farooq showed Shah Zain and 10 to 12 other unknown persons as untraceable, but placed their names in column 2 of the charge sheet in red ink. He also listed 16 witnesses in the case.

Assigning their role, the IO said that during interrogation Daniyal disclosed that he and Umair Anwar Khan fired at the victim with pistols.

It added that suspect Zubair disclosed that he took pictures and filmed the incident with his mobile phone, which went viral on social media showing Daniyal and others subjecting Rehan to torture.

The interim report said that Zubair’s mobile phone was recovered from his custody and the weapon used by Daniyal was recovered from his home.

IO said that the articles of the victim and two wooden sticks used in the crime were also recovered, but the interim report was silent about the recovery of the second weapon allegedly used by Umair.

He said that during interrogation the suspects, who were detained or on pre-arrest bail, confessed to having committed the alleged crime.

He said that the video and other evidence suggested that the suspects had intentionally subjected Rehan to severe torture despite knowing he was underage and weak and that the torture could result in his death.

The interim report concluded that in the view of statements of the witnesses, the suspects and strong evidence had proved that the suspects committed the alleged crime, thus Section 302 (premeditated murder) of the Pakistan Penal Code was incorporated in the FIR.

However, the interim report “failed” to mention the motive for the alleged murder since Daniyal initially alleged that Rehan and a friend of his had barged into his house to commit a robbery, but they were caught and given a ‘light’ beating.

The IO said that the forensic experts opined that further examining of the mobile phone was required, therefore, it was sent to the Counter-Terrorism Department and a report was awaited.

He maintained that a final investigation report would be filed after completing the investigation and other legal formalities and requested the court to accept the interim investigation report.

Published in Dawn, September 17th, 2019