Accused in Safoora, Sabeen murder case acquitted in yet another case

Naimat Khan

KARACHI: Prime Suspect in Safoora Bus Shooting Case was acquitted in yet another case here on Monday.

An Anti terrorism Court heard here a case against Saad Aziz under the charges of attack and attempted murder. The prosecutor, however, fail to produce sufficient evidence of Aziz involved in June 3, 2015 attack on Police at Samanabad area of the city.

Saad Aziz and Tahir Hussain Minhas, who have been awarded capital punishment of death sentence by military court in case of Safoora Bus Shooting, were acquitted in attack on School here on Saturday.

On Saturday, an anti-terrorism court (ATC), had acquitted Saad Aziz and Tahir Hussain Minhas, who have been awarded capital punishment of death sentence by military court in case of Safoora Bus Shooting, were acquitted in attack on School

According to counsel of the accused no evidence had been found against Aziz and Minhas and that the school administration has also refused to recognize them.

In January last year, Four days after the Sindh High Court set free three facilitators in the Safoora Bus Shooting case, five condemned terrorism suspects challenged their death sentences awarded by a military court over their involvement in carnage.

The then Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif had confirmed death sentences to 5 terrorists, including Saad Aziz, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said on May 12, 2016.

“The terrorists perpetrated Safora Chowrangi bus attack and were also involved in Improvised Explosive Device blast near Saleh Masjid Karachi, killing of a social worker Ms Sabeen Mahmud and attacks on Law Enforcement Agencies,” the statement said, adding that the convicts were tried by military courts.

The accused include Tahir Hussain Minhas s/o Khadim Hussain Minhas, Saad Aziz s/o Abdul Aziz Sheikh, Asad ur Rehman s/o Atique ur Rehman, Hafiz Nasir s/o Afzal Ahmed and Mohammad Azhar Ishrat S/O Ishrat Rasheed Ahmed.

“These five convicts were active member of Al-Qaeda. They were involved in attacking a bus of Ismaili community at Safora Chowrangi Karachi which resulted in death and injuries to the passengers,” the ISPR statement said.

However, the condemned accused after almost seven months challenged the decision following reports of acquittal of three alleged facilitators.

In their appeal to the Sindh High Court, the suspects submitted the military court acquitted three others accused in the case therefore their appeals should also be heard.

A two-judge bench of the SHC issued notices to the federal and provincial authorities, directing them to file their comments by January 16.

On Thursday, The Sindh High Court had ordered the release of three alleged facilitators of the Safoora bus attack on bail, but, when required, the three must appear for the trial in an anti-terrorism court.

The order came at a hearing of petitions seeking the transfer of the case files from a military court to the anti-terrorism court.

At least 45 people were killed and 13 others wounded on May 13, 2015, when gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying members of the Ismaili community near Safoora Chowk.

The families of Naeem Sajid, Sultan Qamar Siddiqui and Hussain Umar Siddiqui, who are charged with facilitating the horrific attack, submitted that the custody of their relatives had been shifted to the central prison, but the record of the proceedings of the case was still lying with the military court.

They said that the detainees were being incarcerated without any trial proceedings, and requested the court to direct the military court to shift the trial proceedings of the case to anti-terrorism court.

The petitioners’ counsel said the military authorities concerned were not complying with the court orders, and requested release the detainees on bail, subject to furnishing of surety amounts, on the grounds that they were being incarcerated without any trial proceedings.

The court was earlier informed by the jail authorities that the alleged facilitators had been again remanded back to the anti-terrorism court for speedy disposal of the trial on a request of the military authorities.

They said the custody of the co-accused, who had been sent to the military authorities for trial, 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 bring them under the Pakistan Army Act.