FIA gets two-day physical remand of Sarim Burney

US authorities also investigating social worker's involvement in child trafficking, says FIA official

Social activist Sarim Burney is seen standing while being presented at the city court on June 6, 024, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/Geo News Live
  • FIA IO requests court to order Burney's physical remand.
  • US authorities also probing Burney's involvement in trafficking.
  • Social worker was arrested in Karachi after return from US.

KARACHI: A local court Thursday granted a two-day physical remand of Sarim Burney to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on charges that the renowned rights activist was involved in human smuggling.

Investigation Officer Chaudhry Bilal produced Burney before Judicial Magistrate Khaleequ Zaman, a day after his arrest on charges of human trafficking. He requested the court to order the social worker's 14-day physical remand in police custody.

The IO said that Burney's custody was required to record his statement, obtain the relevant record and arrest his co-accused. He also maintained that there was a risk of evidence being destroyed if the FIA was not given custody.

After hearing the arguments, the magistrate handed over the accused to FIA on a two-day remand with a direction to produce him on completion of the remand as well as a progress report on the case.

Meanwhile, the court rejected Burney's request to discharge him from the case.

During the hearing of the case today, the social worker's lawyer requested the court that his client be released as there was no case with regards to the matter.

His lawyers maintained that Burney's services to the society were outstanding and that he was arrested on false and baseless charges.

"Sarim has received awards for social services. He cannot imagine doing anything wrong," said his lawyer.

Burney — who runs the Sarim Burney Welfare Trust International, a non-profitable entity — was taken into custody on Wednesday after he landed at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi following his visit to the United States.

According to FIA, the social worker was arrested on charges of human trafficking which includes smuggling and illegally sending children to the US after American authorities filed a complaint against him.

He was, as per FIA, accused of trafficking more than 25 children to the US and illegally getting them adopted in the country. He has also been accused of fraud and falsification of documents, said the agency.

Subsequently, the allegations of smuggling children to the US triggered an investigation against the social worker.

FIA's investigation officer requested the court to order Burney's physical remand for investigation regarding the matter.

Lawyer Syed Asif Ali was representing Burney in the case. He requested the court to spare some time for the social worker's team of counsels to arrive at the court following which the court allowed them 15 minutes, adjourning the case for some time.

"Initially, there were reports that Sarim Burney was being taken to the Malir court. Our legal team had gone there," the lawyer said, asking the court to provide some respite.

Earlier today, the FIA said that the social worker admitted "wrongdoing" in the human trafficking case against him in the wake of his arrest.

"Sarim Burney was interrogated twice. He admitted making a mistake in the initial statement following his arrest," said the officials.

The FIA further revealed that the social worker was also under surveillance by authorities in the US during his recent visit. The FIA officials told Geo News that the US authorities are also investigating the social worker's child trafficking.

The FIA confirmed the development after registering a case in its human trafficking cell against Burney. "More cases of child trafficking and money laundering will be registered against Sarim Burney," said the officials.

On the other hand, sources told Geo News said that the record of the children transferred to the US was provided to the FIA ​​authorities by the embassy.

The social worker has been accused of smuggling a newborn girl named Haya to the US, FIA said.

"More than 15 among those sent to the US are girls," said the agency's officials.

The officials added that Burney bought the baby from her parents for Rs1 million and sent her to the US. "More than one person assisted Sarim Burney in the purchase of the girl."

The FIA officials have recorded the statement of the baby's parents who, it added, are extremely poor.

In the case registered against Burney, he has been accused of smuggling at least 20 newborn babies in a year for adoption by parents in the US, said the FIA.

Meanwhile, the sources said that Burney's wife, Aliya, is also a beneficiary in the trust's documents.

They added that Burney's wife can also be named in the case after the documents are confirmed by the Sindh government.