KARACHI: A judicial magistrate on Tuesday dismissed the post-arrest bail application of social worker Sarim Burney in a case pertaining to “child trafficking by way of illegal adoption” on the complaint of US authorities.

Mr Burney’s legal team comprising Advocate Aamir Nawaz Warraich, Aijaz Hussain Khatak and Muhammad Nawaz Dahri had filed the bail application before Judicial Magistrate (East) Khalique Zaman.

After hearing arguments from the prosecution and defence sides, the court rejected the bail plea, noting that the “material collected by the prosecution was sufficient to provide reasonable grounds for believing that a prima facie case exists” against the suspect.

During the proceedings, the prosecutor of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) opposed the bail application, arguing that the investigating officer needed to record the statement of Afsheen, the biological mother of a minor girl, and statements of other witnesses. He requested the court to reject the applicant’s bail plea.

Mr Burney’s counsel argued that their client was innocent and had been falsely implicated in the case.

While highlighting Mr Burney’s respectable status and numerous achievements, they asked the court to grant him bail.

In his detailed order, the magistrate noted that the offence appeared to be “very serious in nature, involving human trafficking”.

“The accused seems to be a desperate, hardened criminal and he is running an organised criminal group of human trafficking and persons, especially minors. He used to purchase minors from the persons and sold them out to the foreigners against the consideration of huge amount,” the written order said, adding: “The offenders were procuring the children through some pimps and trust arranged a meeting with a poor person with foreigners and to finalise rate and other conditions,” the court observed.

“The accused is a very influential person and he may use influence on the victim and the witnesses and there is likelihood of accused to approach or try to approach the victims/ witnesses,” the court order said.

A case was registered against Mr Burney and others under Sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly, inducing delivery of property), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 471 (Using as genuine a forged document), 109 (abetment) of the Pakistan Penal Code read with Sections 3 (trafficking in persons), 4 (aggravating circumstances) and 5 (abetment and criminal conspiracy) of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2018.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2024

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