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September 6, 2018

Chief pathologist, two jail officials suspended in Sharjeel liquor case


September 6, 2018

The chief pathologist of the Sindh government and two prison officials were suspended on Wednesday in connection with the alleged recovery of liquor bottles from a Ziauddin Hospital room where Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Sharjeel Memon had been under treatment.

The order issued by Prisons Inspector General Imran Yaqoob Minhas stated that assistant superintendents Mujahid Khan of the Central Jail Karachi and Naseem Ahmed Shujra of the District Jail Malir have been suspended “on account of their misconduct and negligence in performing their legitimate duties being incharge sub-jail at Ziauddin Hospital, Clifton”.

The notification read that during their suspension, the two officials would report to the office of the prisons deputy inspector general and continue to draw their salaries as permissible under the rules.

A separate order issued by Sindh Chief Secretary Maj (retd) Azam Suleman Khan stated that the services of chief pathologist Dr Zahid Ansari have been placed under suspension. Dr Ansari is the director laboratories and chemical examiner for the provincial administration as well as the secretary of the Sindh Blood Transfusion Authority. The notification read that during his suspension, Dr Ansari would report to the health department and continue to draw his salary and allowances as admissible under the rules.

Chief minister’s law adviser Barrister Murtaza Wahab said the chemical examiner was suspended for breaching the law regarding secrecy of processes related to official chemical examinations.

He said in a statement that unauthorised disclosure of any confidential official matter to the media or to the public is a violation of the code of conduct set for government officials. The examiner has been suspended for releasing the video of the chemical examination and making it viral on social media and other platforms, he added. “His suspension should not be taken in a negative sense.”

A day earlier Mujahid Khan and Naseem Ahmed Shujra among over half a dozen suspects were included in investigations over the suspicion that they might have tampered with evidence in the liquor case.

The suspects were included in the investigations by a three-member special police team headed by South Zone police chief DIG Javed Alam Odho. The decision was taken after they were found neglecting their duty and behaving suspiciously in CCTV footage obtained by the police team from the hospital.

Although a medical report found no trace of alcohol in Memon’s bloodstream, the police investigators are trying to ascertain the possible involvement of the suspects in destroying the evidence.

The footage showed the PPP leader’s domestic servants taking a suspicious packet apparently containing alcohol bottles out of his hospital room after Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Justice Mian Saqib Nisar paid a surprise visit to the facility a few days ago.

Police investigators suspected that there was alcohol in the bottles found during the CJP’s visit to Memon’s hospital room, which had been declared a sub-jail, but later it was replaced with honey and olive oil. They included the sub-jail security personnel in the investigations over negligence as there was no check on the supply of various things to the sub-jail.

“We have included over half a dozen suspects in our investigations, including two assistant jail superintendents and three court police personnel,” Odho told The News. “Memon’s servants and the hospital staff have also been included in the investigations for their possible involvement in destroying evidence.”

The DIG said that it had been confirmed that the sub-jail security staff showed negligence, but the investigators were trying to ascertain if they were directly involved in the matter. He said the sub-jail officials, including assistant superintendents Mujahid Khan and Naseem Shujra, have been found irresponsible and action against them was being taken under Section 201 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

He added that the jail, court police and private employees were questioned, but the final decision would be taken after statements, including those of witnesses, had been recorded and CCTV footage was examined properly. “We shall also seek the assistance of the health secretary in ascertaining and verifying the chemical examination report of the suspicious bottles.”