ATC convicts accused in Punjab minister’s assassination case

Published November 22, 2020
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday convicted an accused in the assassination case of Punjab home minister retired Col Shuja Khanzada. — FIle photo
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday convicted an accused in the assassination case of Punjab home minister retired Col Shuja Khanzada. — FIle photo

RAWALPINDI: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Saturday convicted an accused in the assassination case of Punjab home minister retired Col Shuja Khanzada.

ATC Judge Raja Pervaiz Akhtar convicted Mohammad Qasim Muavia under section 5 of the Explosive Substance Act (ESA) 1908 and sentenced him to 10-year rigorous imprisonment.

He was arrested in Sept 2015 and was facing charges under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code including section 302, sections 3, 4, 5 of ESA and section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

According to the prosecution, Qasim Muavia was a member of the Qari Sohail Group of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan. His name was included in the Fourth Schedule of the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 in 2013.

The prosecution claimed that the accu­sed was involved in the terrorist attack that killed Mr Khanzada and 16 other people on Aug 16, 2015 at the minister’s political office in Attock’s Shadi Khan village.

In October the same year, the Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) Sheikhupura killed four suspected terrorists who had alle­gedly planned the attack on the minister.

Ten-year rigorous imprisonment awarded

Fayyaz, Amjad, Saddam and Sadaqat were reportedly killed in an exchange of fire with CTD Sheikhupura. Another absconding accused in the case, Qari Sohail, was declared a proclaimed offender.

Initially, the prosecution listed 130 witnesses but 84 testified before the ATC.

Judge Akhtar, however, convicted Qasim Muavia under the ESA since the investigation could not directly establish his link with the murder of Mr Khanzada.

While sending his warrant of execution of sentence to the Adiala jail superintendent, the judge said the “convict shall be entitled to the benefit under section 382-B of the Criminal Procedure Code”, which meant his sentence will start from the date of arrest.

Deputy Prosecutor General Tahir Kazim told the court that the accused was involved in reconnaissance and tipped the terrorists on the presence of Mr Khanzada at his political office.

Mr Kazim added that the police recovered the unused explosive on the identification of Qasim.

Polish engineer murder case

ATC Rawalpindi acquitted the accused, Kaleemullah and Farid Khan, in Polish engineer Piotr Stanczak’s murder case.

However, both were sentenced to five years for carrying explosive material.

Engineer Stanczak was kidnapped from Attock, near Rawalpindi, in Sept 2008 after which a case was registered with Basal police station against the unidentified kidnappers.

In February 2009, former parliamentarian Abdul Aziz Shah and Attaullah Khan were arrested for the kidnap and murder of the engineer, but they were acquitted in Feb 2011 by the ATC for want of evidence.

The CTD Punjab and the Inter Services Intelligence arrested Kaleemullah and Farid Khan on June 1, 2020 when they obtained intelligence reports about their arrival in Rawalpindi to commit a terrorist act.

Following this breakthrough, the case of kidnapping and subsequent murder of the engineer was re-opened some 12 years after its registration.

The raiding teams recovered from them explosives and lodged an FIR under section 3/4 Explosive Substances Act and 7 Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 with CTD Rawalpindi police station.

Published in Dawn, November 22nd, 2020

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