SC asks for missing prisoners' detention record
23 February, 2013
ISLAMABAD: During the hearing of the Adiala Jail missing prisoners' case, the Supreme Court has directed the FATA secretary to furnish the complete record of their detention on February 26.
Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, heading a three-member bench that comprised Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Azmat Saeed, made it clear that the authorities concerned would have to be answerable for all the 11 missing prisoners. Out of the 11 inmates, four have died in the detention of spy agencies. Expressing concern over the detention of the missing prisoners, the chief justice said that there was no solid evidence against them.
He said that according to the applicant all the prisoners were being held illegally, as there was no evidence against them. Earlier, Deputy Attorney General Ali Zai told the bench that an internment centre had received an application regarding the release of the prisoners; therefore a medial checkup would be initiated. He also said that internment centre's review board would decide their plea on the basis of the medical checkup soon.
The counsel also said that the court should have been careful while assuming its jurisdiction in FATA. The court, however, told him that these prisoners were arrested from Rawalpindi, therefore it would examine this issue. The hearing of the case has been adjourned till February 26. It is worth mentioning that the 11 prisoners were arrested from different places and charged with attacks on the GHQ and Hamza Camp of the Inter-Services Intelligence. They were acquitted by an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi in April 2010. However, instead of being freed they were held in prison under preventive detention laws.
The Lahore High Court declared their detention illegal on May 28, 2010. Following the court order the said prisoners went missing and their family members alleged that they had seen them being whisked away by officials of intelligence agencies. Their disappearance was challenged in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the intelligence agencies continued to deny that they picked them up. The Punjab government had informed the court that they were handed over to the secret agencies.
When the apex court did not buy the argument of the intelligence agencies, their counsel informed the court in December 2010 that they were in the custody of intelligence agencies, but were arrested in a conflict area. The apex court disposed of that petition when the counsel claimed that they would be tried by a court martial under the Army Act. The controversy took a new turn when mother of three of the detainees moved the Supreme Court and the court issued their production order.
In view of the apex court's order, seven remaining prisoners were produced before the apex court in last year but now they are detained in FATA areas.