ATC orders PTI leaders to appear before JIT

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Six PTI leaders, including party Secretary General Asad Umar, were ordered by a Lahore Anti-Terrorism Court on Friday to appear before a joint investigation team (JIT) set up to look into the skirmishes between PTI supporters and Punjab police on March 18 in Zaman Park.

On March 18, a large police detachment started a search operation at PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s residence, sparking skirmishes between his party’s followers and police as he left his Zaman Park property in Lahore to appear before a judge in Islamabad.

In a separate incident of PTI leaders Asad Umar and Farrukh Habib attacked police parties outside Zaman Park with petrol bombs and stones when they failed to appear, Lahore ATC had revoked their provisional pre-arrest bail on March 29.

The Lahore ATC issued these instructions today after hearing a request for an extension of the interim bail of PTI leaders Asad Umar, Yasmin Rashid, Zubair Niazi, Hassaan Niazi, Musarrat Cheema, and Mian Aslam Iqbal in a case involving misbehavior with law enforcement and property damage outside Zaman Park.

The session was presided over by ATC Judge Abher Gul, and the PTI leaders’ attorney, Barrister Salman Safdar, attended.

The hearing was earlier today postponed to 10am after the court instructed the PTI leaders to record their statements in the JIT. The court extended the leaders’ temporary bail in the case till April 27 and ordered them to appear before the JIT at 2:30 PM today [Friday].

The JIT chief SSP Imran Kishwar told the court at the beginning of the session that only Asad Umar had joined the investigative process and “no one other than him” had done so. The suspects were then told by the court to participate in the inquiry today. “All suspects may come to our office and join the investigation,” SSP Kishwar remarked at this point.

“All persons can join the investigation in the court as well,” Barrister Safdar continued. The hearing was subsequently postponed until 10am after the court instructed SSP Kishwar to record the suspects’ statements.

SSP Kishwar informed the court that all suspects had recorded their testimonies and that they needed to be questioned in front of witnesses when the hearing resumed.

The defendants’ temporary bail was subsequently extended till April 27 by the judge, who also ordered them to appear before the JIT at 2:30 PM today.