A Pakistani court has acquitted all three police officials accused of killing an ATM thief in police custody, a case that drew attention after UN designated terrorist Hafiz Saeed played the role of an arbitrator in it.
Additional District and Session (Rahim Yar Khan) Judge Justice Zahid Hussain Bakhtiar acquitted police officials Mahmoodul Hassan, Shafaat Ali and Matloob Hussain this week in the murder of alleged ATM thief Salahuddin Ayubi.
The court acquitted them after the family of Ayubi pardoned the suspects on the ‘wish’ of Mumbai attack mastermind Saeed.
Ayubi, who was mentally challenged, died in police custody in August due to alleged torture after his arrest on charges of stealing money from an ATM.
Ayubi’s death sparked outrage across the country.
Saeed played the role of an arbitrator in the case between the police and the family of Ayubi.
Saeed, who has been in the high security Kot Lakhpat Jail here since his arrest on July 17 on charges of terror financing, met the deceased man’s family and convinced them to pardon the policemen allegedly involved in Ayubi’s murder for the sake of Allah.
“Both the accused policemen, their officers and the victim’s family members had detailed couple of meetings with Saeed in the jail who brokered the deal between them,” an official source told PTI.
The Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) founder had also received assurance by the authorities of construction of a carpeted road and supply of gas to the village of the victim’s family in Gujranwala at an accumulative cost of Rs 800 million to settle the dispute.
“Since some members of the family of Ayubi were the followers of Saeed, police arranged their ‘special meeting’ with him in jail. After listening to both sides, Saeed gave the victim’s family three options – receive blood money from the accused policemen or pardon them in the name of Allah or pursue legal case against them. The family chose to pardon the policemen,” a government official had told PTI.
When PTI contacted Ayubi’s father Afzaal Ghumman, he confirmed that the family pardoned the accused policemen on the ‘wish’ of Saeed.
“When we visited him (Saeed) in the jail last week, he gave us three choices. He said pardoning someone in the name of Allah is a far superior act. So we chose to pardon the suspects,” Ghumman said.
Saeed had reportedly ‘directed’ the Punjab government to establish a school, lay a gas network in their (victim’s family) village Gorali, Gujranwala, some 80-km from Lahore, and rebuild a link road in return for the pardon.
“After Saeed’s mediation, Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar visited their (the victim’s) village and assured provision of these facilities there at the earliest,” the source said.
This is perhaps one of the unique cases in the history of the country where a suspect facing terror financing charges settled court matters.
“This shows how powerful this man (Saeed) is, he said.
In 2016, the government had launched a probe against the Jamaat ud Dawa (JuD) for running a parallel judicial system in Punjab province.
The group was accused of settling matters among the people at its headquarters in Lahore, running a parallel judicial system.
The investigation, however, led to no legal action against the JuD.
The US Department of the Treasury has placed Saeed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.
The US, since 2012, has offered a USD 10 million reward for information that brings Saeed to justice.
Saeed-led JuD is believed to be the front organisation for the LeT which is responsible for carrying out the 2008 Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.
According to officials, the JuD has a vast network which includes 300 seminaries and schools, hospitals, a publishing house and ambulance service.
The JuD and its charity wing Falah-i-Insaniat Foundation (FIF) have about 50,000 volunteers and hundreds of other paid workers.
In March 2019, Punjab police said that the government seized control of 160 seminaries, 32 schools, two colleges, four hospitals, 178 ambulances and 153 dispensaries associated with the JuD and the FIF in province.
At least 56 seminaries and facilities being run by the JuD and the FIF in southern Sindh province were also taken over by authorities in the same month. PTI MZ IND