Tuesday September 26, 2023

ATC judge murder: KP police chief claims four suspects were present at murder scene

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's top cop says some suspects arrested by a team led by DIG Mardan Yaseen Farooq.

April 06, 2021

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief claimed on Monday that four of the eight suspects named in the murder of an anti-terrorism court (ATC) judge and his family over the weekend were present at the crime scene.

KP Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Dr Sanaullah Abbasi told Geo News that some of the suspects were arrested by a team led by the deputy inspector-general of police (DIG) for Mardan, Yaseen Farooq. They were aided by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), he added.

On Sunday, unidentified assailants had opened indiscriminate fire at four people — ATC judge Aftab Khan Afridi, as well as his wife, daughter-in-law, and maternal grandson — at the Ambar Interchange in the Swabi district as they travelled from Swat to Islamabad. 

Afridi, who had been serving in Swat for the past two months, and his family were at the M-1 (Islamabad-Peshawar) Motorway when they were shot at. The firing incident had also left two security guards wounded and the deceased's bodies were shifted to the Bacha Khan Medical Complex (BKMC).

The targeted attack took place in the jurisdiction of the Chota Lahor City police station.

KP police chief Dr Sanaullah Abbasi (L) and the late anti-terrorism court judge, Aftab Khan Afridi (R). The News/via

A first information report (FIR) was filed on behalf of the deceased judge's son, Majid Afridi, said Swabi District Police Officer (DPO) Muhammad Shoaib who had earlier reached the crime scene with DIG Farooq.

The car in question was recovered and five suspected individuals taken into custody during operations carried out by the police in Peshawar and Khyber district, DPO Shoaib explained.

Abbasi, the KP police chief, said authorities were investigating the murder "on a scientific basis". While he refused to comment on details of the case, he mentioned that the Swabi police would conduct a thorough scientific investigation into the murder case.

"Investigative agencies are probing the case," he added.

Separately, the murder case filed with the police includes as suspects the president of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA), Abdul Latif 'Lala' Afridi, and his son, Danish Afridi.

Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) President Abdul Latif 'Lala' Afridi speaks to the media in Pakistan. Geo News/Screengrab via The News

Latif Afridi categorically denied having any links to the killing of the ATC judge or planning the murder. In a phone call with Geo News, he condemned the killing but distanced himself from the incident.

Latif Afridi also said he was not in Swabi at the time of the murder. The truth would come out, he added, noting that he was ready to join the investigation and police inquiry of the case.

"Police can initiate whatever type of inquiry they wish to do so and I'm ready" for that, he said.

The nomination of Latif Afridi in the FIR drew strong condemnation from the SCBA, which said the body's president had "nothing to do with the killing."

A false case was registered against him, the SCBA said in a statement, clarifying that Latif Afridi and his son were working in the fields when judge Aftab Afridi and his family were killed.

The statement quoted Latif Afridi as saying that attacking a woman was against the Pashtun traditions but that he was ready for any kind of cooperation.

The district bar council boycotted the courts today over the incident as well.

Furthermore, the deceased judge's brother, Saeed Afridi, told the media that the motive behind the murder seemed to be a personal feud. He stressed that the bodies would not be removed from the hospital until the suspects were arrested.

However, the martyrs' funeral prayers were offered in Peshawar. A large number of people, including various lawyers, attended the funeral prayers, following which they were buried in the ancestral graveyard of their native village.

Earlier, on Sunday night, Prime Minister Imran Khan had "strongly" condemned the quadruple murder, vowing to arrest the suspects behind the "gruesome act".

"The perpetrators of this gruesome act will be apprehended & dealt with full severity of the law," he wrote on Twitter after the news of the murder was reported.

Additional reporting by Bushra Khalid, Rizwan Yousufzai, Rasool Dawar, and Saima Sajjad in Peshawar and Maryam Nawaz in Islamabad