Why some terrorism suspects go scot free in Pakistan?
Mudassar Raja, The News, April 18, 2011
RAWALPINDI, April 18: No less than 23 sus- pect terrorists have been acquitted of the charge in the past six months by the trial courts in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
That sounds alarming but only until one learns the reason – weak prosecution. Each of the 23 accused went free because the prosecution failed to connect them firmly with the seven terror attacks they were said to have a hand in. Mostly, the prosecution’s case collapsed because the trial judge found the witnesses and confessional statements unreli- able.
“In my experience, the prosecution in sui- cide attack cases overwhelmingly relies on eyewitnesses to the incident who later identify the suspects during the identification parade in jail,” said Advocate Basharatullah Khan who has repre- sented accused people in such cases.
However, the prosecution case is usually very weak legally; for instance eyewitnesses are found by the investigators after the accused have been arrested. This weakens the case as ideally eyewitnesses’ testimony should be recorded soon after the incident and not after the accused are arrested, he pointed out.
This is exactly what happened in the case of Ghulam Mustafa Tabbasum and Shafiqur Rehman who were recently acquitted after having been tried for being involved in the sui- cide attack at the entrance of Rescue 15 in Islamabad in 2009.
The Margalla police in their preliminary in- vestigation report did not mention any eyewit- ness. Later they added that two policemen claimed to have seen the two suspects roaming near the office of Rescue 15 two days before the suicide attack.
And if the eyewitnesses were found at the right time, the prosecution fails to fulfill legal requirements, making the testimony invalid. This was the mistake made by the prosecution which won the accused of the suicide attack on a police gathering near Melody Market in 2008, Qari Ilyas, his freedom.
The Aabpara police failed to fulfill all the legal requirements of holding the identification parade at the jail under the supervision of the judicial magistrate. The two police witnesses identified Ilyas in the absence of the magistrate and confirmed that they saw him ‘directing’ the suicide bomber to attack the police gathering on July 7 2008.The testimony was thrown out of the court.
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