PESHAWAR: An anti-terrorism court acquitted a young man accused of being a member of a proscribed militant organisation and waging war against the state as despite repeated court orders the prosecution could not produce any witness against him.

ATC Judge Syed Asghar Ali Shah acquitted the suspect, Ameen Jan, a resident of Bara in Khyber tribal district, under section 265-K of Code of Criminal Procedure, which empowers the court to acquit an accused at any stage of the case if it considers that there is no probability of the accused being convicted of any offence.

Advocate Farhadullah Afridi appeared for the suspect and contended that at the time of alleged crimes attributed to his client, he was only 12-year-old. He said that it was not appealable to prudent mind how a young child of that age could commit such like offences.

Prosecution fails to produce any witness against suspect

He contended that there was no evidence on record to connect his client with commission of any offence and merely on basis of hearsay a person could not be convicted.

During a previous hearing on October 12, the court had questioned the public prosecutor about presence of witness or to name the witness to be brought before the court in future but he had failed to respond to any of the two options.

The judge in his order observed that public prosecutor was reminded that no case could progress without witness and disclosure of witnesses supporting the allegations against the accused.

During previous hearing, the public prosecutor was given another opportunity to make efforts to find out any witness who may come before the court to own the allegations against the accused and disclose source of information about those allegations and record statement to this effect otherwise the court would proceed in the case as provided in different provisions of Code of Criminal Procedure.

The accused was arrested on December 19, 2016, on charges that he was a member of proscribed Lashkar-i-Islam and he had remained under training of militant Commander Shams for a period of 10 to 12 days.

It was alleged by prosecution that the accused had attacked security forces camp in year 2010 along with other militants and they had also slaughtered four members of Zakhakhel tribe.

He was handed over to the then tribal administration of Khyber in 2018 and a report of a Joint Investigation team (JIT) was also submitted wherein it was recommended that he should be sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.

The court observed that from where the said information was gathered against the accused was a question finding no explanation on record.

“There is a report of jirga wherein it is recorded that the accused has been born in 1997 and he has never been remained associated with Commander Shams or Abdullah.

That he was a young boy and as such has not performed duties of patrolling or at a morcha as guard during the period,” the court observed, adding that the jirga members had recommended acquittal of the accused but despite that no action was taken.

“Probably action was not taken under the FCR due to merger of Fata in settled areas and the case is now entrusted to this court and has to be considered,” the court observed.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2019