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Ex-CIA station chief be booked for murder: IHC

06 June, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday directed the Secretariat Police Station to register a murder case against former CIA station chief in Islamabad Jonathan Banks and former CIA General Counsel John A Rizzo in the matter pertaining to Kareem Khan, a resident of North Waziristan Agency (NWA), after his brother and a son died in a drone strike in 2009.

While hearing the matter, Justice Siddiqui inquired the Secretariat Police Station SHO whether any cognizable offence was committed or not. The SHO said that the offence was cognizable but it was not in the territorial jurisdiction of Islamabad Police.

Justice Siddiqui then said, "If a cognizable offence was committed, you must act as per law," and disposed of the matter. Kareem Khan, a resident of North Waziristan Agency, had lost his teenage son Zahinullah and a brother Asif Iqbal who was a primary school teacher in Mir Ali, in a drone strike on December 31, 2009. While proceeding in this matter, Kareem Khan also remained missing for 10 days after he was allegedly picked up by the security agencies on February 5, 2014 from Rawalpindi when he was goingto narrate his woes before the European Parliament on February 15.

Kareem Khan, a native of Machi Khel, Mir Ali, North Waziristan, had filed an application for FIR with the Secretariat Police Station in 2010.The Secretariat Police refused to lodge the FIR and Kareem Khan then filed a case under Section 22-A with the civil court of Islamabad while praying that the police might be directed to register the FIR.

A civil judge of Islamabad dismissed the application in December 2013 citing lack of jurisdiction as the reason. The civil judge had observed that the attack was carried out in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) of Pakistan and hence the Islamabad court could not assume jurisdiction in this matter.

The petitioner then filed an appeal with the IHC and the same court while hearing in the matter on February 10, 2014 referred the matter to civil judge once again. But the civil judge refused to issue an order in favour of Kareem Khan citing lack of jurisdiction.

Kareem Khan then filed an appeal before the IHC that was heard on Thursday with directions to register cases against Jonathan Banks and John A Rizzo.Mirza Shahzad Akbar, advocate, represented Khan in the court and argued that the drone strike was carried out in North Waziristan but the FIR could not be registered as the CIA station chief was based in Islamabad. He further argued that the decision of civil judge dismissing the application on account of territorial jurisdiction was misconceived while under the Pakistani law, the FIR could be registered.

After the court's decision, Akbar through a press release said, "There is no doubt under Pakistani and international law that the US officials are committing murder through drone strikes in Pakistan and today's decision simply vindicates this very point as after this order, all those who have been killed in drone strikes have a right to proceed in similar criminal actions against the CIA officials and others involved. This remarkable order also highlights the strength of independence of judiciary in Pakistan which is truly protecting the rights of citizens of Pakistan under the Constitution".

End.

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