An administrative judge of the anti-terrorism court (ATC) rejected on Monday a plea seeking the release of former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain in cases related to harbouring and treating terrorists in his private medical facility.
At the start of the proceedings, the investigation officer DSP Altaf Hussain informed the court that he could not find any evidence related to terror charges leveled against the former minister, requesting the court to release the suspect.
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However, the judge ordered police to take custody of the suspect besides observing that, “In ‘prima facie’ the misconduct, as contended in the FIR, was done. Therefore, the cognisance of the case is taken.”
While dismissing the IO’s report regarding finding no evidence against the suspect, the administrative judge transferred the case to an anti-terrorism court (ATC-II) for further proceedings.
Earlier on Sunday, the Sindh government changed the special public prosecutor pursuing charges of harbouring and treating terrorists against the former president Asif Ali Zardari’s confidante. The change of prosecutor came a day after the paramilitary Rangers petitioned the SHC seeking a restraining order against the possible move.
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Nisar Ahmed Durrani, a Hyderabad-based member of the Sindh Bar Council and supporter of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party, replaced Mushtaq Jehangiri, a lawyer who was part of the paramilitary force’s legal team.
On Friday, Jehangiri had also moved the court, filing a similar petition in which he accused the newly-appointed investigating officer, DSP Altaf Hussain, of conducting an unfair and partial investigation to favour the accused.
Earlier on December 11, Dr Asim closely missed his release after a detention of 90 days as an anti-terrorism court allowed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to formally arrest the former federal minister and interrogate him further. However, he denied all charges against him saying, “I would rather die than give a statement under duress.”
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Dr Asim had been detained by the paramilitary Rangers on August 26. He, along with 27 others, had been accused of facilitating terrorism by providing treatment to terrorists — militants working for political and religious groups — who were injured in shootouts with the law enforcers or with rival groups.