KARACHI: An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on Monday rejected a report by the investigating officer of police which had acquitted the former federal minister of charges of abetting terrorists.
The former petroleum minister – a close aide of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari – was arrested on August 26 over allegations of corruption and facilitating terrorists at his private hospital in Karachi.
The PPP leader was initially held by Rangers for 90 days during which he claimed he was mistreated and forced to give statements under duress, which includes admission that wanted criminals were given treatment on his orders at his hospital.
Last week, the Sindh police gave a clean chit to the former minister after expiration of his 14-day physical remand in police custody.
But, announcing his verdict today, the ATC’s administrative judge Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto rejected the report by Investigating Officer DSP Altaf Hussain which argued that there was not enough evidence to keep the former minister in custody over charges of abetting terrorists.
“We were unable to not find evidence during the investigation of the case,” the investigating officer told the court today.
DSP Altaf Hussain, who replaced Mushtaq Jehangiri as the investigating officer in the case, said that the previous IO was also unable to produce a single witness in court.
He said that there was no terror-related evidence against Dr Asim, which is why he was acquitted of terrorism charges.
Counsel for the Rangers Habib Ahmed informed the court that the Sindh government had changed the investigating officer and the special public prosecutor in the case.
After hearing the report and arguments from both sides, the judge said that the IO could not satisfy the court to quash the terrorism charges against Dr Asim, and said that he should be taken into custody again.
Justice Phulpoto ordered the police to re-arrest Dr Asim and produce him in the ATC on Tuesday to proceed with the trial.
Dr Hussain, who was in NAB custody after he was released by police, has now been handed over to back into police custody.