ATC wants fund set up for ransom payments ‘if it is only way’

Updated January 22, 2020

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The judge of the ATC-XVI gave this observation while passing a judgment in a case pertaining to kidnapping of a man for ransom from Karachi and laundering of the money to the militant Islamic State group, also known as Daesh, for terror financing. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File
The judge of the ATC-XVI gave this observation while passing a judgment in a case pertaining to kidnapping of a man for ransom from Karachi and laundering of the money to the militant Islamic State group, also known as Daesh, for terror financing. — Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons/File

KARACHI: An antiterrorism court (ATC) has asked the provincial home secretary and inspector general of police (IGP) to devise a mechanism for establishing a pool/fund for the payment of the amount of ransom if it is the only way to safely recover any persons abducted by kidnappers.

The judge of the ATC-XVI gave this observation while passing a judgment in a case pertaining to kidnapping of a man for ransom from Karachi and laundering of the money to the militant Islamic State group, also known as Daesh, for terror financing.

Mohammad Raheel Alam, 25, was abducted by four accused persons with the help of their seven alleged absconding accomplices in February 2018 within the remit of Gulistan-i-Jauhar police station.

In his judgment, a copy of which is available with Dawn, the judge observed that “generally and in this case particularly, the abductees and their families are left at the mercy of kidnappers where lives of abductees remain under imminent danger not to talk of their honour, dignity and property unless exorbitant ransom amount is arranged by aggrieved families and paid to the kidnappers”.

He also observed that protection and security of the lives of citizens as well as their property, honour and dignity was the responsibility of the state under the Constitution and not the families and/or guardians only.

The judge said: “It is therefore directed to the Sindh home secretary and IGP to devise a mechanism for advance payment of pool/funds of ransom amount if the only way for safe release of any abductee is the payment of ransom amount, so that firstly safety of life of an abductee under imminent danger may immediately be ensured.”

The judge added that if the ransom amount was paid (arranged by the government), it would help detect the accused without endangering the life of an abductee.

Conviction

The judge noted that the prosecution successfully proved the charges of kidnapping for ransom and common intention against the four detained accused persons, including Mukhtiar Ahmed, Naeem aka Ali, Roohullah and Ali Akbar aka Haji. The judge sentenced them all to life imprisonment.

He also awarded them three-year imprisonment each and ordered them to pay Rs50,000 fine. The accused were also told to pay Rs200,000 each as compensation to the victim for keeping him in unlawful confinement for around four months.

The judge also handed down six-year imprisonment each to the accused for committing offences of money laundering and fundraising for terror financing punishable under sections 11-J and 11-N of the ATA, 1997.

The case against the seven fleeing suspects — Mohammad Khair, Zubair Ahmed, Maqbool Ahmed, Haji Ahmedullah, Shabbir Jan, Hafiz Abdul Kareem and Saifuddin — was kept on the dormant file and their perpetual warrants were issued.

According to the prosecution, the detained accused along with their absconding accomplices abducted 25-year-old Raheel Alam, who left home on Feb 7, 2018. His abandoned car was found in Block 6/7 near Decent Arcade.

State prosecutors Mohammad Raza and Anila Malik contended that after 10 days, a call from Afghanistan was received by Raheel’s brother and the caller demanded Rs100 million ransom for his safe release and threatened of dire consequences in case of non-payment.

They also contended that during the course of investigation, the abductee returned home after his family paid over Rs10m ransom to the accused.

In the charge-sheet, the investigating officer (IO) mentioned that in his statement, abductee Raheel disclosed that Haji Qandhari contacted his brother Nabeel Alam on telephone and instructed to give ransom amount to his companion Roohullah in Quetta, but he refused to visit Quetta.

The accused also sent video clips of the abductee crying and requesting his family to pay the ransom amount, said the IO, adding that later Roohullah gave a phone number of his companion Mukhtiar who was subsequently paid the ransom amount through hawala on May 29, 2019 by Nabeel. Then the accused released Raheel near Karachi University after around four months.

IO Tassawar Ameer arrested accused Mukhtiar Ahmed, Naeem aka Ali, and Ali Akbar aka Haji from different areas of the metropolis while fourth accused Roohullah was arrested from inter-city bus terminal at the Yousuf Goth and ransom amount was recovered from his possession.

The prosecutors contended that the material, ocular and other evidence fully corroborated the charges levelled against the accused persons by the prosecution and pleaded to sentence them strictly in accordance with the law.

In their statement, recorded under the Section 342 of the Criminal Procedure Code, all the detained accused persons denied the allegations and claimed to be innocent.

Their defence counsel — advocates Hashmat Khalid, Zahid Ali Metlo and Mohammad Saleem — argued that the prosecution’s case contained glaring contradictions in the evidence. Therefore, they argued that the present case lacked the merits to punish their clients and pleaded to acquit them of the false and fabricated charges.

A case was registered under sections 365-A (kidnapping or abducting for extorting property, valuable security, etc), 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with the Section 11-H (fund raising) and 11-N (money laundering) of Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 at the Gulist­an-i-Jauhar police station.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2020