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Friday May 24, 2024

Witnesses against Uzair Baloch skipping trial

By Zubair Ashraf
July 31, 2021

A sessions court has issued a non-bailable warrant for the arrest of a police inspector who had not been appearing to depose his testimony during the trial of alleged gangster Uzair Baloch.

The additional district and sessions judge (South IV) directed the SSP City to bring the inspector to the court on August 9. The trial is being conducted inside the Central Prison for security concerns.

The police officer, in question, had recorded his statement in the court on March 16, stating that he had lodged an FIR against Baloch after his arrest following a shootout with the law enforcers in 2006.

According to the prosecution, the accused nabbed along with an unlicensed Kalashnikov in the Mauripur area and was later sent to jail. He, however, absconded after obtaining bail from the court.

The court also issued bailable warrants for the arrest of two other police witnesses who had been also skipping the hearings. The judge directed the SSP West to ensure the presence of these witnesses in the court on the next hearing.

Witnesses escape

A judicial officer, on the condition of anonymity, said that the witnesses had appeared in the court in the morning after which they were summoned to the hearing in the afternoon. He added that when their turn came, they were called absent, which irked the court. He said the witnesses had been doing the same thing for the past six hearings due to which the trial was facing adjournments.

The judge also ordered the investigation officer of the case to ensure bringing the seized weapon and the police papers to the court at the next hearing. He also issued a show-cause notice to the SHO of Mauripur over the witnesses’ escape.

Lack of evidence

Baloch is the chief of the outlawed Peoples Amn Committee and is currently being tried at different anti-terrorism and sessions courts in over four dozen cases of murders, kidnappings, extortion and terrorism.

Meanwhile, he serves a 12-year sentence awarded by a military court in 2020 over spying for and leaking sensitive information about Pakistan armed forces and their installations to Iranian intelligence agencies.

According to his attorney Abid Zaman, the cases against Baloch are false and politically motivated due to which the courts have been acquitting his client for lack of evidence. He said that since January 2021, Baloch has been exonerated in 21 cases -- 17 from sessions courts and four from ATCs -- because the prosecution could not prove their charges against him.

Fears and threats

Zaman’s counterpart, who wished not to be named, said that one of the most reasons for the alleged gangster’s acquittal was that the witnesses were afraid to depose against him.

The person added that the witnesses, including the policemen, were receiving threats by Baloch’s gang to not testify against him. He said the escape of the witnesses from the court should also be deemed in the same context.

Disputed arrest

According to a Joint Investigation Team’s report, Baloch, based in Lyari, ran an extortion enterprise worth millions of rupees in Karachi and after the authorities launched a crackdown against him he escaped to Iran in 2013.

Some unverified reports said the accused had been arrested by Interpol when he had tried to enter the United Arab Emirates from Oman in 2014. But the Rangers claimed his arrest in a raid in the outskirts of Karachi in 2016.

Political controversy

According to the prosecution, Baloch had recorded a confessional statement before a judicial magistrate in April 2016 in which he had implicated the top leadership of the Pakistan Peoples Party as his partners in crime.

He, however, has retracted from this statement calling it false and concocted. He has said that during the trial Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders have been trying to blackmail him against the PPP.