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Three Safoora bus attack suspects’ trial transferred back to ATC, SHC told

By our correspondents
November 24, 2016

The trial of three alleged facilitators of the horrific Safoora bus attack, which left 45 members of the Ismaili community dead in May last year, has been transferred back to an anti-terrorism court for its speedy completion on a military authorities’ request, the Sindh High Court was told on Wednesday.

The high court learnt of the trial’s transfer from centre jail officials at a hearing of a petition seeking the release of one of the defendants, Naeem Sajid alias Peena. The two other suspected facilitators are Qamar Sultan Siddiqui and his younger brother Muhammad Hussain Siddiqui.

On the tragic morning of May 13, 2015, gunmen intercepted a bus carrying members of the Ismaili community and shot dead 45 passengers, including women, near Safoora Chowrangi.

The counsel for Sajid submitted that the custody of his client, facing charges of possession of an illegal weapon as well as charges levelled against him under the
customs act, was shifted to the central prison by the
military authorities and he was granted bail by the trial court.

He said that despite the court order for the release of his client on bail, he was not being released by the jail authorities.

The defence counsel contended that an accused could not be tried twice for the same offence, and requested the court to order the release of the detainee.

In their comments on the petition, central jail officials said the custody of three co-accused, Naeem Sajid, Sultan Qamar Siddiqui and Hussain Umar Siddiqui, who had earlier been sent to military authorities to stand trial in a military court, was remanded back as they could not be tried by the military court because the requisite nexus of their alleged offences based on religion or sect was not established to try them under the Pakistan Army Act.

They said the military authorities also requested a speedy trial under the anti-terrorism law.

It was submitted that the chief justice of the SHC accepted the request made by the assistant judge advocate general, 5 corps, and the three men’s trial was transferred to the relevant ATC from where it was sent to special military court for speedy disposal in accordance with the law.

They said Sajid was not illegally detained but incarcerated in connection with the Safoora bus attack case pending with the ATC.

After taking the comments on record, the high court adjourned the hearing till December 1, directing the other respondents to file their comments.

The military court had handed down death sentences to five men for involvement in the bus attack on May 12 this year. Later that month, army chief General Raheel Sharif also signed the death warrants for the execution of Saad Aziz alias Tin Tin, Tahir Hussain Minhas alias Sain, Asad-ur-Rehman alias Malik, Hafiz Nasir alias Yasir and Mohammad Azhar Ishrat alias Majid.


Ex-LG secy plea

The Sindh High Court directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file submit details of a corruption reference filed against former local bodies’ secretary Ahmed Ali Lund.

The ex-secretary had filed a petition challenging NAB’s inquiry into charges that he misappropriated local government funds and the accumulation of assets, worth Rs380 million, beyond his known sources of income.

The NAB counsel submitted that the bureau had filed the reference against the former secretary, who had played an active role in the commission of the offence.

The court directed the counsel to file details of the reference and adjourned the hearing till December 2.