Thursday, November 24, 2016

Pakistan's 21st amendment courts -- a limit finally appears

With the 21st amendment military courts about to sunset (in January), unless Parliament acts to extend them, an interesting development has occurred. Three cases that had been sent to these courts have been sent back (although they will still wind up in other military courts, seemingly). According to this account:
The counsel for [Naeem] Sajid submitted that the custody of his client, facing charges of possession of an illegal weapon as well as charges levelled against him under the customs act, was shifted to the central prison by the military authorities and he was granted bail by the trial court. 
He said that despite the court order for the release of his client on bail, he was not being released by the jail authorities. 
The defence counsel contended that an accused could not be tried twice for the same offence, and requested the court to order the release of the detainee. 
In their comments on the petition, central jail officials said the custody of three co-accused, Naeem Sajid, Sultan Qamar Siddiqui and Hussain Umar Siddiqui, who had earlier been sent to military authorities to stand trial in a military court, was remanded back as they could not be tried by the military court because the requisite nexus of their alleged offences based on religion or sect was not established to try them under the Pakistan Army Act
They said the military authorities also requested a speedy trial under the anti-terrorism law. 
It was submitted that the chief justice of the SHC accepted the request made by the assistant judge advocate general, 5 corps, and the three men’s trial was transferred to the relevant ATC from where it was sent to special military court for speedy disposal in accordance with the law.
Emphasis added. 

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