ISLAMABAD: Bailable warrants for the arrest of the news director of a private TV channel, Ammad Yousaf, were issued on Friday for his repeated failure to appear before a local court of Islamabad in a ‘mutiny’ case.

Yousaf has been facing charges of aiding Shahbaz Gill, chief of staff of PTI chairman Imran Khan, in the case pertaining to the latter’s controversial comments on ARY News last year allegedly aimed at creating a divide in armed forces.

Yousuf was arrested after ARY News was served a show-cause notice by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority in August 2022.

When Additional District and Sessions Judge Tahir Abbas Sipra resumed hearing of the case, the counsel for the news director again sought exemption from his personal appearance on medical grounds.

The counsel said his client was ‘suffering from malaria’ and was unable to attend the proceedings. However, the judge noted that previously indictment of both suspects had been deferred, because Shahbaz Gill had been unwell and finally when he was brought to the court, the counsel for Yousaf sought exemption for him from appearance on medical grounds.

Prima facie it appeared as if the suspects were applying “delaying tactics” to stall the trial, the judge said.

The court then issued bailable warrant for arrest of Yousaf of Rs50,000 surety bonds and adjourned further proceeding in this matter till Jan 20.

Police had registered a case against Shahbaz Gill under sections 34 (common intention), 109 (abetment), 120 (concealing design to commit offence punishable with imprisonment), 121 (waging war against state), 124-A (sedition), 131 (abetting mutiny, or attempt to seduce a soldier, sailor or airman from his duty), 153 (provoking to cause riot), 505 (statement conducing to public mischief) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

While Shahbaz Gill was brought to court premises in an ambulance on Friday, the court again deferred his indictment in absence of the other suspect.

Gill was arrested in August last year and later admitted to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences in September. He was later released on bail and shifted to Services Hospital, Lahore, in December on complaints about shortness of breath and cough.

Published in Dawn, January 7th, 2023

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