Pakistani court sends Dr Asim to judicial custody for sheltering militants

NAB directed to produce former minister in accountability court today.

By Afzal Khan

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Published: Wed 23 Dec 2015, 4:59 PM

Islamabad: An anti-terrorism court in Karachi on Tuesday sent Dr Asim Hussain, former federal minister, to jail in judicial custody till December 30 over charges of harbouring militants in his hospital.
The court directed the National Accountability Bureau to produce the close confidante of former president Asif Ali Zardari in an accountability court on Wednesday.
The court had earlier rejected a report by the new investigation officer, DSP Altaf Hussain, declaring Dr Asim innocent.
Further, adjourning the case till December 30, the ATC also ordered that copies of all prosecution documents, including statements of witnesses, be handed over to him.
On Monday, the court rejected the police investigation report clearing the former minister of terrorism charges and ordered his re-arrest for a trial in an anti-terrorism court (ATC).
Sindh High Court's Justice Naimatullah Phulpoto, who oversees the ATCs, trashed the report observing there was sufficient evidence against Dr Asim. He then ordered the suspect to be presented before the ATC-II for initiating the trial on Tuesday.
Dr Asim, chairman of the Sindh Higher Education Commission and a friend of former Zardari, is facing charges of abetting and harbouring terrorists at his family-owned hospitals in Karachi.
After spending 90 days in the custody of paramilitary Rangers, who detained him on August 26, he was handed over to the Karachi police for further interrogation. The police, however, relieved him of the charges and got him released, sparking a tussle between the federal and provincial governments.
Meanwhile, Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister on Information Moula Bux Chandio has expressed disappointment over the judgment of the administrative judge of the Anti-Terrorism Court in Dr Asim's case, saying that justice was not seen to be done in this case.
"Although, we have full faith and trust in courts, such decisions would reduce trust and faith in the judiciary. The Sindh government is not interfering in this case, otherwise the decision would have been different from what happened today," he told a news conference at the New Sindh Secretariat after the hearing of Dr Asim's case. Commenting on the court's decision, Chandio alleged that in Dr Asim's case, all the evidence and testimonies in favour of the accused were not considered and several mistakes were committed, which should be reviewed by the courts.
Adjourning the matter till December 30, the court also ordered that copies of all prosecution documents, including statements of witnesses, be handed over to Dr Asim in compliance with Section 265-C of the Criminal Procedure Code.
But Dr Asim, who was arrested by the NAB on December 11, is on physical remand with the anti-graft body till December 23 and will remain in NAB custody till he is presented in an accountability court.
NAB has reportedly launched investigations into references against Dr Asim for illegal affiliation of colleges with the Pakistan Medical and Dental Council, issuance of licences for dozens of CNG stations and other corrupt practices.

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