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August 11, 2018

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30 witnesses record statements in Baldia factory fire case

30 witnesses record statements in Baldia factory fire case

As many as 30 witnesses recorded their statements in the Baldia factory fire case on Friday and later the court adjourned the hearing till August 27 to hear other witnesses.

Most of the witnesses were family members of the deceased that were burnt alive on September 11, 2012 as a fire broke out in Ali Enterprises Factory, killing more than 260 workers and injuring several others.

As many as 114 prosecution witnesses have recorded their statements so far, while around 720 witnesses were nominated in the Balida factory fire case. Key accused Abdul Rehman and Zubair were also produced in the court housed at Central Prison, Karachi.

Former provincial minister and a leader of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Rauf Siddiqui also appeared in the court as he was indicted in the case as well.

The then in-charge of Tanzeemi Committee of the MQM, Hammad Siddiqui, was alleged to have directed the key accused and others to set the factory on fire due to the failure of the owners to pay extortion money. Hammad, Adeeb Khanum, Dr Abdul Sattar and Ali Hassan were also accused.

However, Advocate Hassan Sabir argued that his clients Khanum and Sattar were already declared innocent in the charge sheet submitted by the police. He requested the court to grant bail to the two accused and it granted interim bail in the sum of Rs100,000 each.

The Rangers prosecutor, Sajid Mehboob, previously alleged that the defense attorneys were trying to delay legal proceedings. He said the families of the victims were impatiently awaiting a decision.

The court observed that it would hear the case daily after September 11 last year and asked the defense attorneys to come to the hearings prepared.

Rehman was arrested from a hotel in Bangkok last December by Thai Interpol. He was brought back to Karachi by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and had pleaded not guilty when charges were framed against him.

Meanwhile, a local court granted protective bail to a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) legislator Malik Shahzad Awan in two cases. Awan contested the elections from PS-116 and won, however, two courts (District South and West) in the past had declared him a proclaimed offender due to his non-appearance before those courts that summoned him on multiple occasions. The cases against him pertained to charges of fraud and cheating in 2014. He obtained protective bail from the additional district and sessions judge (South) in the two cases.

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