ISLAMABAD: Weeks after the release of three suspects by a local court on the Federal Investigation Agency’s recommendation, the FIA has requested the special judge of a cybercrime court to initiate legal proceedings against its own team for committing negligence in the judge’s video leak case.

In the charge sheet submitted before the cybercrime court on Monday, the FIA blamed its four officers, including the prosecutor, for committing negligence in investigating the case pertaining to the alleged immoral video of former accountability judge Mohammad Arshad Malik and sought legal proceedings against them.

Judge Malik, who had convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in the Al-Azizia reference, in a purported video confession stated that he had been pressured and blackmailed into issuing a decision against the ex-PM in the reference because of his allegedly immoral video. After the leak of the video statement, the judge in an FIR lodged with the FIA nominated Nasir Janjua, Maher Ghulam Jilani and Khurram Yousaf.

The FIA initially arrested Mian Tariq in connection with the judge’s video leak, while the three suspects were arrested on Sept 2 after the special judge of the cybercrime court, Tahir Mehmood Khan, dismissed their pre-arrest bail plea. However, on FIA’s request for “the discharge of the accused”, a judicial magistrate ordered their release on Sept 7.

Charge sheet filed before cybercrime court blames four FIA officers for negligence that resulted in release of suspects

In the discharge report, the FIA investigation officer had stated that during the course of investigation, “they [the three accused persons] were found not involved in the commission of offences levelled against them in case…and the charges could not be established against them”.

FIA’s prosecutor Kaleemullah Tarrar supported the stance of the investigation officer that the case of the accused persons was fit for discharge as no evidence against them was available on record.

Subsequently, civil judge / judicial magistrate Saqib Jawad observed that with “the contentions of the parties and material available on the record, it is evident that not a single piece of evidence is available on the record against the present accused.” The court noted that remanding them in judicial custody would not serve any purpose as the prosecution was firm that not a single piece of evidence and incriminating material was available on the record.

“Resultantly, accused… are discharged from this case and be released forthwith if not required in any other case,” the court ruled.

The FIA director general later transferred the inquiry to the counterterrorism wing.

As the trial of the main suspect was under way before the special judge of the cybercrime court, Judge Khan expressed displeasure over the release of the three persons and sought the charge sheet from the investigation team.

The FIA in the charge sheet submitted on Monday accused its director Afzal Butt, assistant director Farooq Latif, Fazal Mehboob and prosecutor Kaleemullah Tarrar for showing negligence in the investigation that resulted in the release of the three suspects. The FIA sought legal proceedings against the officers.

Further proceedings in the matter were adjourned till Sept 30.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2019