Sahiwal incident: Govt to challenge ATC verdict acquitting suspects

Sahiwal incident: Govt to challenge ATC verdict acquitting suspects

Islamabad (Web Desk): Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the Punjab government to submit an appeal against the verdict handed down by a special Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) acquitting all suspects in the Sahiwal incident.

“The premier had also instructed the authorities to investigate weaknesses and shortfalls in the case presented by the complainant pleading the case,” Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan tweeted.

On Thursday, an anti-terrorism court in Lahore acquitted all the suspects involved in the Sahiwal encounter on the basis of the benefit of the doubt.

According to details, the case was being heard by Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) Number 1 Judge Arshad Hussain Bhutta.

The court acquitted Punjab Police’s Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) officials on the basis of the benefit of doubt.

The suspects Safdar Hussain, Ahsan Khan, Ramzan, Saifullah, Hasnain and Nasir Nawaz appeared before the court.

The court dismissed the statements given by 49 witnesses including the victim Zeeshan’s brother Ehtisham and victim's Khalil’s children. The witnesses refused to identify the suspects before the court.

The verdict was announced by the ATC after holding hearings for the case for nine months.

On January 19, 2019, Khalil, his wife and their four children were travelling with Zeeshan when the CTD personnel stopped their car near Sahiwal Toll Plaza on GT Road and opened fire, later claiming that they were targeting suspected terrorists.

Eyewitnesses, however, disputed the claim and said the people in the car did not fire at officials, nor were any explosives recovered from the vehicle.

A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) formed to probe the killings in its final report submitted last month said the slain family members were innocent and they were wrongly murdered.

A strict action was recommended in the report against the CTD officials involved in the changes in record.