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Doctors sentenced by ATC

March 15, 2005

KARACHI, March 14: Dr Akmal Waheed and his younger brother Dr Arshad Waheed were convicted on Monday by an anti-terrorism court, which sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment totalling 18 years on charges of causing disappearance of evidence by harbouring and providing medical treatment to activists of banned Jundullah group.

The two brothers, one a cardiac specialist of the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases, and the other a kidney physician of the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, stayed calm as Judge Feroze Mehmood Bhatti of the ATC-2 announced the judgment inside the Central Prison.

However, the court exonerated the two brothers from the charges of providing facilities of training to Jundullah activists and sending them to Wana as the prosecution failed to prove the two major allegations before the trial court.

The doctor brothers were prosecuted on charges of sheltering and training Al Qaeda, Jundullah activists, providing them funds and medical treatment, under Sections 212, 216, 201 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 21-J, 21-C, 11-N of the Anti-terrorism Act, 1997.

Talking to newsmen, the two brothers said they expected such a verdict as “it was part of the government policy to appease the United States”.

They said they would definitely file an appeal against the ATC judgment in the Sindh High Court. “We believe Allah Almighty will do Justice,” they added.

The police announced the arrest of the Waheeds on July 2, though the family claimed they had been picked up on June 17. According to police, some Jundullah activists, arrested for their involvement in an attack on the corps commander’s convoy and other terrorist activities, stated that the doctor brothers had close links with them.

The two doctors were initially given in police custody for interrogation in the corps commander convoy attack case and the Rangers mobile attack case. Later they were exonerated from the charges in the two cases by the police itself and they were booked in a fresh case on July 15, 2004, by the Gulshan-i-Iqbal police under Sections 201, 212 and 216 of the Pakistan Penal Code and Sections 21-C, 21-J and 11-M of the Anti-terrorism Act for financing, assisting, harbouring and treating the activists of the banned Judhullah.

The court observed that the prosecution was able to prove that Dr Akmal provided treatment to Shahzad Bajwah who suffered injuries on March 19, 2004, during an attack on Rangers, and that Dr Arshad Waheed stealthily provided treatment to Mohammad Qasim, who was injured in the corps commander convoy attack case.

While handing down a seven-year term to each doctor for causing disappearance of evidence (Section 201 PPC), the judge observed that both the accused kept the above facts intentionally secret and did not furnish information to authorities concerned. A fine of Rs50,000 each was also imposed on the doctors and the defaulter on the payment would have to undergo an additional six-month term.

The two doctors were given another seven-year term and a fine of Rs50,000 each for harbouring the Jundhullah activists (Section 216 PPC). Another four-year term was handed down to them for concealing facts with intention of screening Junduallah activists from legal punishment (Section 212 PPC).

However, the court held that prosecution could not prove that the two doctors had given shelter to Abu Massab, Gul Hasan, and Qassam-ul-Sani, the activists of the proscribed organization Al-Qaeda.

In his 93-page verdict, the judge observed: “It has become crystal clear that prosecution witnesses have not been able to utter even a single word that present accused Dr Akmal Waheed and accused Dr Arshad Waheed provided facilities of training to Shahzad Ahmed Bajwa (fake name Abdullah) and Mohammad Qasim, activists of Jundullah group, by sending them through absconding co-accused Kashif, P.A of accused Dr Akmal Waheed, to Abeda Khan, brother of Nek Mohammad at Wana, to operate Kalashnikovs, LMGs, modern weapons, preparing bombs and causing blasts.”

He remarked: “The prosecution has also not been able to bring anything on record to prove that present accused persons gave shelter to Abu Massab, Gul Hasan and Qasam-al-Sani.”

“No tangible evidence has been brought on record to show as to when those Shahzad Ahmed Bajwa (fake name Abdullah), Mohammad Qasim, Abu Massab, Gul Hasan and Qasam-al-Sani, were sent to Abeda Khan, brother of Naek Mohammad, at Wana, who had arranged their journey and through whom.”

The judge observed that the prosecution had not produced any documentary or ocular evidence to prove the allegations that the accused provided facilities of training to Jundullah men by sending them to Wana and gave shelter to Al Qaeeda activists in Karachi.

PLEA DISMIISED: Chief Justice of Sindh High Court Saiyed Saeed Ashhad on Monday dismissed application of Dr Akmal Waheed and Dr Arshad Waheed seeking transfer of terrorism case against them from ATC-II to another ATC on withdrawal by their counsel, adds PPI.

When the matter was taken up, Mohammad Farooq advocate sought withdrawal of application on the ground that ATC Judge “today is announcing the verdict in the case”.

The applicant’s counsel had submitted justice would not be fairly and impartially made in the case, as the trial court judge was partisan and interested in prosecution.

The affidavit of Ajmal Waheed, brother of applicants, was also filed stating on December 13, 2004, ATC Judge Feroz Mehmood Bhatti made a statement in open court, addressing applicants in presence of him and other family members, that: “You do not understand what pressure I am facing from high-ups to whom I am accountable.”