KARACHI: An antiterrorism court on Wednesday deferred the indictment of Uzair Jan Baloch, the chief of outlawed Peoples Amn Committee, in a seven-year-old case pertaining to the murder of his rival gangster Arshad Pappu and two others.

The alleged Lyari gangster has been nominated in over 50 criminal cases pending trial before different ATCs due to his non-production.

In April 2017, the army had announced that it had taken Uzair into custody on charges of “espionage” and “leak of sensitive security information to foreign intelligence agencies”.

Prison authorities had told an ATC in June 2018 that Uzair was handed over to the army on April 11, 2017 in the presence of the civil judge and judicial magistrate-XI (South) for investigation in an explosives and arms case.

Earlier this month, the prison authorities produced Uzair in court and informed the judge that the Army’s Corps V had handed over his custody after a period of three years.

The court asks Lyari gangster to engage a defence lawyer by May 11

The judge of the ATC-XVII, who is conducting trial in the Arshad Pappu murder case, had fixed the matter for framing of an amended charge against Uzair on April 22 since charges against him could not be framed due to his prolonged absence.

When the matter came up on Wednesday, the suspect was produced from prison along with two detained accused, Zubair Baloch and Zakir Baloch.

Five others — Shahjahan Baloch, Javed Baloch, Mohammad Yousuf, Chand Khan Niazi and Akram Baloch — also appeared in court on bail.

Uzair informed the judge that he had not engaged a defence counsel and requested time to do so.

The judge deferred the indictment of Uzair, directing him to engage a defence counsel by May 11.

The court also issued a production order, directing the prison superintendent to ensure his presence before the court on the next date of hearing.

The court also personally summoned the investigating officer, Inspector Yameen Gujjar, on the next date with a direction to produce prosecution witnesses to record their statements against the accused.

All accused persons were ordered to appear on the next date.

Eight co-accused had already been indicted in the present case.

According to the prosecution, Arshad Pappu with his brother, confidant and 10-year-old son had gone to attend the party of a friend in Defence Housing Authority on the night of March 16, 2013. The boy came home around midnight and informed his mother that around 20 men in two vehicles came to the flat in the DHA and took away his father and the two others.

A case was registered under relevant sections of the law at the Kalakot police station on a directive of the Supreme Court.

Arshad Pappu was booked in around 60 cases, but he was never convicted in any case since most of the key witnesses either did not turn up to testify against him or turned hostile before the courts.

He was released in the middle of February 2012 from a prison in Balochistan following his acquittal in what appeared to be the last case against him pertaining to the murder of Faiz Mohammad aka Mama Faizu, a transporter and father of Uzair Baloch.

Published in Dawn, April 23rd, 2020