close
Advertisement
Can't connect right now! retry

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!

add The News to homescreen

tap to bring up your browser menu and select 'Add to homescreen' to pin the The News web app

Got it!
September 18, 2020

ATC to conclude final arguments in Baldia fire case on September 22

Karachi

September 18, 2020

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Thursday put off the hearing of the Baldia factory fire case until September 22 to conclude the final arguments. As the trial is near completion, the ATC-VII is likely to announce the verdict soon.

During the hearing, the court discussed the matter of fixing fines on the accused in case of their conviction, and examined the details of compensation already provided to the families of the victims of the fire.

In what is dubbed Pakistan’s 9/11 and regarded as one of the country’s deadliest industrial disasters, 260 people were killed and 49 others injured in the fire at the Ali Enterprises garments factory in Baldia Town on September 11, 2012.

According to the prosecution, the factory was set on fire by men affiliated with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) because the factory owners had refused to give into the party’s demands for being paid extortion money.

Arshad Bhaila, one of the owners of the factory, had testified in court that MQM men had asked him to pay Rs250 million or a share of 50 per cent in the profits. He said he had been willing to pay Rs10 million.

Independent opinions suggest that regardless of the cause of the fire, casualties occurred because the factory lacked the basic occupational health and safety standards, while the building design was also flawed.

According to London-based research group Forensic Architecture, which conducted an analysis of the fire using computer simulation, inadequate safety measures at the factory had led to the catastrophic death toll.

The case is based on the findings of the joint investigation team’s report, which states that the incident was that of arson, and that the scene was compromised because of the fire rescue activities and the time lapse. The report also disapproved of the previous investigations’ claims of holding an electrical short circuit responsible for the fire incident at the Baldia garments factory.

Ten suspects are currently facing trial. They include the MQM’s then commerce & industries minister Rauf Siddiqui, some factory employees and private persons. Of these, Abdul Rehman, alias Bhola, and Zubair, alias Charya, are in judicial custody. The rest of the accused are on bail. Siddiqui is absconding.

According to a court staffer, around 400 witnesses have been examined and cross-examined during the trial. Police had named 768 witnesses in the charge sheet, but 368 of them

were given up for being unnecessary.