Karachi police on Wednesday released MQM leader Babar Ghauri in a case pertaining to the facilitation of an alleged hate speech by Muttahida Qaumi Movement founder Altaf Hussain, defence counsel Shabbir Shah confirmed to Dawn.com.
Ghauri, a former federal minister for ports and shipping, was arrested from Karachi airport on June 4 upon his return to the country, ending his seven-year self-imposed exile.
The following day, police obtained his week-long physical remand from an administrative judge of the antiterrorism courts (ATC) to interrogate him and complete the investigation into the seven-year-old case.
On Wednesday, the investigating officer (IO) produced the MQM leader before the ATC’s administrative judge upon the expiry of his physical remand.
The IO informed the judge that Ghauri was interrogated in custody but no evidence was found of his involvement in the alleged offence and that the record showed he was out of the country when the case was lodged against him and other party leaders.
He further said that Ghauri’s physical remand was no longer required by the police and recommended that the MQM leader be set free due to a lack of evidence.
Meanwhile, the defence counsel argued that his client was in the United States when he along with around 30 other MQM leaders, including Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Waseem Akhtar, were booked in the case.
The counsel also pointed out that the majority of the nominated MQM leaders booked in the case had already been acquitted.
After hearing the arguments from both sides, the judge ordered for Ghauri to be released.
However, the MQM leader is also facing two other cases.
Before his return to the country, Ghauri had obtained pre-arrest bail from the Sindh High Court in a corruption reference and a money laundering and terror financing case.
The former shipping minister, along with the MQM founder and other party leaders, had been booked by the Federal Investigation Agency in 2017 in a money laundering and terror financing case.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had also filed a reference before an accountability court in 2018 against Ghauri and others for the alleged illegal regularisation of 940 employees of the Karachi Port Trust, causing losses to the tune of Rs2.8 billion to the national exchequer.
An accountability court had declared Ghauri as a proclaimed offender in the case after NAB had declared his whereabouts untraceable.