Pakistan’s child abuse suspects may face terrorism charges
The Lahore High Court (LHC) Tuesday sought a report from Advocate General Punjab, Naveed Rasool Mirza, Inspector General Police, Punjab Mushtaq Sukhera and Home Secretary Punjab, Azam Suleman, to determine if the Kasur child abuse case can be tried in an anti-terrorism court (ATC), Pakistan’s newspaper Dawn reports.
LHC Chief Justice Manzoor Ahmad Malik heard the petition filed by advocate Aftab Ahmed Bajwa in the court Monday which stated that since the case is of a serious nature, it ought to be tried in an ATC.
The report will describe what sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act ─ in particular, Section 7 of the ATA, “Punishment for acts of terrorism” ─ are applicable to the case in order to decide whether the case can be tried in an ATC.
Police have contacted victims’ families to inform them that Section 7/ATA has been included in the seven First Information Reports lodged against the accused.
The LHC CJ ordered the SP Investigation and SHOs to present the report in a hearing which is scheduled to take place Wednesday.
“They [the suspects] will face terrorism charges now,” Latif Ahmed Sarra, a lawyer representing the victims, told the German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur. “Their crime is heinous.”
Terrorism potentially carries the death penalty in Pakistan.
Parents in the impoverished village of Hussain Khan Wala said they wanted to see the perpetrators get exemplary punishments for ruining the lives of their kids.
“I’m in pain, sleepless and lost,” said a 50-year-old father, whose two teenage sons were drugged, abused, filmed and the family was blackmailed for money. “I want all of them to be hanged.”
“I wish we had power and money to buy justice,” he said sitting outside his house.
His despair highlighted loopholes in the criminal justice system, which lawyers said provide wealthy and powerful people with opportunities to manipulate it in their interest.
Parents said police refused to file their cases in beginning because suspects were from a politically-influential clan. Saeed denied these charges.
A community leader, who encouraged people to seek justice, accused authorities of a cover-up after a police inquiry earlier blamed them for fabricating the allegations to settle a land dispute.
“It is baseless,” said Mobeen Ghaznavi.
Kasur DSP, 3 others suspended
Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif Tuesday suspended Kasur’s DSP and three high ranking officials of the Special Branch deputed in the region for their negligence in the case, Express News reported.
Special Branch AIG Dr Haram Mushtaq, DPO Rai Babar, and a DSP of the police wing were officially removed, designating them ‘on special duty” (OSD) because they had failed to take appropriate actions against the culprits.
The chief minister argued that the police and its special branch could have apprehended the culprits in time but they had failed to take the required action.
Sources say that police, to investigate and apprehend the culprits sooner, could have mitigated formalities by lodging a case on behalf of the state and initiated investigations. The failure to do so speaks volumes about negligence of the officials involved.