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Saturday Sep 10, 2016

Axact Fake Degree Case: Former prosecutor’s home attacked with hand grenade

 ISLAMABAD: The house of Barrister Zahid Jamil who put up a forceful defence as FIA’s lead prosecutor in Axact scandal before quitting under mysterious circumstances, has been attacked with hand grenade.

The assault has occurred at a time when the federal government was negotiating his re-engagement for the case after questionable role of FIA that led to the bail of Shoaib Sheikh, the chief executive officer of Axact Company.

As many as four lawyers have already quit this case due to “circumstances of Karachi.” A top investigator of FIA who collected forensic evidence against alleged frauds of Axact has been chased, intercepted and taken to unmarked locations for “counseling” on the case for several times.

Barrister Zahid Jamil’s house came under attack Thursday night when two unknown assailants hurled a hand grenade inside the house situated in DHA, Karachi. The attack seemed a serious attempt designed to cause damage, said a police officer. 

Zahid, who successfully prosecuted the case denying the bails from lower and higher courts to the accused, had surprised all when he announced in January this year that he was disassociating himself from the case that he was contesting as a pro bono special public prosecutor.  In a statement then submitted before Sindh High Court on the eve of a hearing of Axact case, he noted that due to the circumstances he was unable to proceed in the interest of preservation of "my professional conduct.”

As another three prosecutors engaged after him also distanced themselves from the case in April this year due to the “circumstances of Karachi”, the government started contacting again for re-engagement.

While he directed the legal team from behind the scene for sometimes, there was a realisation that black sheep in FIA would compromise the case in absence of his full control as a lead prosecutor.

Weak defence of FIA in bail applications is a clear example of alleged collusion as such pleas had been rejected many a time under Zahid’s leadership.  Efforts were afoot to fully engage him ahead of hearing in appeal against the bail granted to Shoaib Sheikh and a meeting was scheduled to be held this week that coincided with this grenade attack.

Other three prosecutors of note: Shahab Osto, Haq Nawaz Talpur and Shahabuddin Gandapur, quit the case under mysterious circumstances. “There was no direct pressure but we were not comfortable. There were disturbing signs that we sensed,” Shahab had then told The News. When asked to explain the disturbing signs, he replied: “You know the circumstances of Karachi.”

Abdul Ghaffar, FIA Deputy Director, who made it possible to collect prosecutable forensic evidence, is also in the eyes of storm. He has been chased and intercepted especially on signal crossing. 

More than three occasions, an official told The News, Ghaffar was taken to an unmarked place for “counseling” on the case. He was told not to become “personal” in this case. The entire department knows the trouble he has been through for boldly investigating the case but all are watching as silent observers. An anchor close to Axact management publicly warned Ghaffar in a recent program: "There is a bad news for you that Axact management has not forgotten what you did."

An FIA prosecutor has faced the music for terming the accused in Axact case hardened criminal. The prosecutor, it is learnt, argued before a court that took up the bail application of Shoaib Sheikh on the grounds that he had been in the custody for a year now hence should be released. Arguing against the grant of the bail, he said the accused was a hardened criminal thus couldn’t be released on bail.

While investigation officer standing with him raised no objection thus paving the way for bail, the prosecutor was reprimanded by FIA high-ups in Karachi for taking “hardened criminal” line of argument.

Our staff reporter adds: When FIA and Axact representatives were contacted in this regard, an FIA official, on condition of anonymity, categorically said that all allegation of slackness or connivance on the part of agency were false.

He said everything happened according to the law, adding that any such type of apprehensions were merely a figment of imagination.

A journalist close to Axact administration said that there was not an iota of truth in all these charges. He said that he was personally following all the happenings. All matters were decided according to the facts and nothing was proved. He said that all allegations would prove false and ultimately they would come clean.

—Originally published in The News



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