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January 3, 2015

2014: Majority of terror suspects acquitted for want of evidence


January 3, 2015

PESHAWAR: The majority of suspects in terrorism cases were acquitted by the anti-terrorism courts in 2014 for lack of evidence and faulty investigation.Official sources told The News that the acquittal rate of suspected terrorists continued to be at more than double of the conviction rate.
According to official data, the terror suspects were acquitted in 44 of the total 77 cases against conviction in 20 cases by the anti-terrorism courts (ATCs) across the province during the first quarter of the 2014.
The data revealed that in the 77 concluded cases, the suspects were acquitted in 44 cases (57 percent) compared to convictions in 20 cases (26 percent), whereas 13 cases (17 percent) were consigned to the record room after fulfilling formalities under Section 512 of the Code of Criminal Procedure as the suspects in those cases were either absconders or could not be traced.
Presently, judges have been performing duties in 12 of the ATCs in the province whereas the 13th court designated as ATC-V at Buner as camp court has been vacant. Of the 13 courts, five are in Malakand division, three in Peshawar and one each at Dera Ismail Khan, Bannu, Mardan, Abbottabad and Kohat.
The two ATCs in Swat have also been performing as camp courts for hearing certain cases at the Peshawar Central Prison and in the Kanju area. The two other courts in Abbottabad and Kohat have also been serving as camp courts at the prisons in Abbottabad and Kohat, respectively.
The sources told The News that currently 57 cases related to terrorism charges were pending in the three anti-terrorism courts of Peshawar division. As many as 194 cases relating to bomb blasts, explosives material, kidnapping for ransom, extortion and kidnapping were decided by the courts in 2014.
The officials said the remaining 57 pending cases were also related to explosives material, firing on the police, extortion and kidnapping.On December 12, 2014, an anti-terrorism court acquitted four terror

suspects named in the Qissa Khwani Bazaar bomb blast due to lack of evidence.
As per the order of the court, the police failed to produce any documentary proof or statements from the prosecution witnesses to prove the involvement of the suspects.On September 29, 2013, a powerful car bomb tore through Qissa Khawani Bazaar, killing at least 48 people including 17 members of a family.
On October 28, 2013, the investigation was handed over to DSP City Police intelligence wing Fazle Moula Khan. The Matani police station cops arrested four suspects, including Niazbeen, Asif Khan, Sheraz and Haji Habib in another case related to explosives and the police also named them in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar blast.
During the trial, the public prosecutor tried his best to prove the case against the suspects. He alleged that they had committed a heinous crime and were Afghan nationals. However, his arguments were discredited by the defense attorney.
“There is nothing on record suggesting the accused are Afghan nationals and there is no direct evidence against them,” the defense counsel argued.According to the order, there is no direct evidence against Mosam Khan or the other suspects, except for Niazbeen’s confessional statements.
“Niazbeen has neither confessed to the crime nor has he highlighted the involvement of the other three suspects,” read the order of Judge Ayub Khan. The order noted that the police were unable to trace the accused and had shifted the burden of the offence on the suspects to escape being blamed for the lapse.

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