PESHAWAR: An anti-terrorism court on Monday acquitted former ambassador of the country to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand and five others charged by the counter terrorism department with financing the banned Al Qaeda terror outfit through bank accounts of an international non-governmental organisation (INGO) for three decades.
Judge Tariq Khan Yousafzai pronounced the acquittal of the accused before the conclusion of trial by accepting their application filed under Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
The provision empowers the trial court to acquit an accused at any stage of the trial if there is no probability of his/her conviction on the basis of available evidence.
Apart from Rustam Shah Mohmand, who is also a former chief secretary, the accused included regional director of INGO Human Concern International Ali Nawaz and four other officials Mohammad Naeem, Shah-i-Room Khan, Mohammad Farooq Awan and Mohammad Tayyab.
Accused had requested ATC for acquittal before trial conclusion
Complainant in the case was CTD inspector Ilyas Khan, while the FIR was registered by the CTD police station on July 4, 2019, under Section 11-N of the Anti-Terrorism Act, which deals with the financing of terrorist organisations.
The CTD had arrested Ali Nawaz over terror financing but he was freed on the grant of bail by a court.
In the FIR, the complainant had charged some officials and board members of the INGO, including Ali Nawaz, Mohammad Farooq Awan, Shah Room and Mohammad Naeem.
The CTD had claimed that it had acted on information provided by the Federal Investigation Agency. According to it, the accused had diverted charity funds to terrorist outfits, including Al Qaeda, from Dec 1989 to the registration of the case.
Sahibzada Riazatul Haq and Batool Rafaqat were the counsel for Rustam Shah Mohmand, Shah-i-Room and Farooq, while lawyer Shabbir Hussain Gigyani represented the other accused.
The defence lawyers claimed that their clients were charged in a fake case as no evidence of that crime was available on record.
They said if the accused had funded Al Qaeda for three decades, how the security agencies could remain unaware of it.
The counsel said the CTD claimed that they had registered the case on the basis of inquiry conducted by FIA but there was nothing on the record to prove it.
They said the investigation officer in his statement before the court clearly declared that he had no evidence of any connection between the accused and any terrorist outfit including Al Qaeda.
The lawyers said the investigation officer also declared that he had not collected any evidence of how the so-called transfer of funds was taking place.
Shabbir Gigyani said the accused were highly respectable people, so implicating them in a false case was an injustice.
He said INGO Human Concern International functioning in the country for many decades had a good reputation and wasn’t banned in the country due to commendable services.
Initially, Mr Rustam Shah was not charged in the case. He was named as an accused in Feb for being a former chairman of that INGO.
Following the registration of FIR, the Human Concern International denied the charge and claimed that the finance manager concerned had provided all relevant information to the investigation officer in the case.
Published in Dawn, June 16th, 2020