An anti-terrorism court on Tuesday acquitted four men accused of facilitating the fierce attack on the Karachi airport in 2014 after the prosecution failed to prove charges against them.
The ATC-IV judge ordered the release of Asif Zaheer, Sarmad Siddiqui, Abdur Rashid Siddiqui and Nadeem alias Burger while pronouncing the verdict in the case following a five-year-old trial.
The defence attorney, Imtiaz Ali, told The News that a total of 98 witnesses were named in the charge sheet; however, the court examined only 39 witnesses and gave up the rest of them. On the night of June 8, 2014, 10 terrorists laced with arms and explosives had attacked the Karachi airport, killing 27 people, including security personnel and staffers. The terrorists were gunned down by the security agencies in the overnight operation.
The responsibility of the attack was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan as a result of which the army immediately launched a major crackdown called Operation Zarb-e-Azab against the terrorist outfit in North Waziristan, which was its stronghold.
The accused were arrested by the Counter Terrorism Department on the charges that they provided logistics, weapons and financial support to the attackers. Another suspect, Master Essa, had been released from the case in the initial stage.
Meanwhile, the court issued perpetual warrants of arrest against the absconders wanted in the case, including former TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid, Malik Mumtaz Awan, Asim Sharif, Akhtar alias Plumber, Iqbal alias Thekedar and Abdullah Baloch.
The FIR (87/2014) was registered under sections 302 (murder), 324 (attempted to murder), 353 (deterring public servant from duty with criminal force), 427(mischief causing damage to the amount of fifty rupees), 435 (mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to cause damage to amount of one hundred rupees or (in case of agricultural produce) ten rupees), 436 (Mischief by fire or explosive substance with intent to destroy house, etc.), 109 (punishment of abetment), 34 (common intention) of Pakistan Penal Code and sections 3,4 and 5 of the Explosives Substances Act read with Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act at the Airport police station.