RAWALPINDI, May 5 An anti-terrorism court acquitted on Wednesday four men who had been accused of planning and abetting a deadly suicide attack on Marriott Hotel in Islamabad in 2008 that left at least 60 people dead, after the prosecution failed to produce any witness.

ATC-I Judge Malik Mohammad Akram Awan acquitted Rana Ilyas, Dr Muhammad Usman, Muhammad Hameed Afzal and Tehseen Ullah Jan because none of the 83 witnesses deposed against the accused.

Advocate Daud Barki, the counsel of the accused, told Dawn that an application under Section 265-K of Criminal Procedure Code of Pakistan had been moved for acquittal of the men because the prosecution had failed to produce any witness or evidence to substantiate allegations that the accused had abetted the attack.

The lawyer said that the prosecution had named 128 witnesses and only 83 recorded their statements, nine witnesses had expired, five foreigners had left the country and the rest did not appear in the court.

Giving details of allegations against the acquitted men and three men who were absconding, the lawyer said that police had accused the four arrested men of facilitating Zakarullah, the main suicide attacker who had driven an explosives-laden dumper truck into the hotel.

About the absconders, Rana Ashfaw, Imran and Abrar, the lawyer said that police had accused the three of arranging explosives and hiring the dumper-truck and guiding the suicide bomber into the hotel.

The lawyer said that on Oct 16 the Secretariat police said they had arrested the four accused in the Marriott blast case, but actually the men had been picked up by intelligence agencies a few days after the incident.

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