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The Supreme court of Pakistan.—Reuters (File Photo)

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed dissatisfaction over the report submitted by the Secretary Fata during a hearing of the Adiyala 'missing persons' case.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heard the case pertaining to the missing prisoners.

During today’s hearing, Attorney General Irfan Qadir revealed that security agencies are holding at least 700 people indefinitely without trial in connection with the “war on terror”.

He said none of the suspects could be freed until the end of operations in the tribal belt, and declined to say how long they had been in custody.

“There are about 700 people detained in the tribal areas and they cannot be released until the ongoing military operation in those regions concludes,” Qadir told the court.

“The detained men can be handed over to authorities only after the operation is halted in the tribal regions.”

He also said that the detainees would be tried under the Frontier Crimes Regulation (FCR).

The Chief Justice asked the attorney general as to how the case would be tried under the FCR and questioned him over the basis upon which the prisoners were detained.

“These people cannot be kept in illegal custody for an indefinite period because it is against the constitution and basic fundamental rights,”  said the CJ.

“We don't say you should release them... we want you to try them in accordance with the law,” he added.

The attorney general replied that the prisoners were held from areas under the state of war and hence they would be tried under the FCR.

The CJ, giving his remarks, said that the prisoners should be released on their own as there would be implications in case the court issued orders which prompted the attorney general to request time to find a way out for the prisoners.

The case was subsequently adjourned until January 28.

The 11 prisoners in the said case went missing from the gate of Rawalpindi’s Adiyala Jail on May 29, 2010 after they had been acquitted of terrorism charges pertaining to their alleged involvement in the October 2009 attacks on the Army General Headquarters and the Inter-Services Intelligence's (ISI) Hamza Camp in the garrison town.

Later, four of the 11 died in mysterious circumstances. The Supreme Court forced the ISI and military intelligence to produce the remaining seven men in court on February 13 — an unprecedented move. The men, all in deteriorating health, were sent to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar on court orders. After five of them recovered, they were shifted to an internment centre in Parachinar.