Police yet to record statements of blast survivors
Pakistani police officers escort six persons suspected of looting and burning a market after Monday's suicide bombing, at district court in Karachi.— Photo by AP
As many as 44 people were killed and over 60 others wounded in the blast at the Ashura procession on M.A. Jinnah Road. A case (FIR 1439/09) was registered at the Preedy police station on behalf of the state under Sections 302, 324, 435, 427 and 34 of the Pakistan Penal Code, Sections 3 and 4 of the Explosives Act and Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997.
Well-placed sources told Dawn that despite four days after the deadly incident the police had not recorded the statement of any of the wounded persons, who were admitted to various city hospitals for treatment.
They said that it is a legal requirement that the police, as part of investigations, put some questions to the wounded/affected persons and record their statements since they were the witnesses of a criminal act and their account can help the investigators in making a strong charge-sheet which would help the prosecution in winning the conviction of the perpetrators of the crime.
In this case, said the sources, the statements of the wounded persons might help the investigators in resolving the mystery that whether it was a suicide bomber who blew himself up or was it a time bomb or a remote-controlled device which went off.
Lack of forensic expertise hampers investigations
Not only the Karachi police, but other law-enforcing agencies have so far been unable to say anything with authority about the Ashura procession blast.
The failure is indicative of the persistent apathy towards forensic and ballistics expertise of the police.
Shortly after the blast when no forensic evidence was collected from the scene of crime, the interior minister was quick to declare that it was an act of suicide bombing.
However, in the absence of any human remains that could be attributed to the suspected suicide bomber, much importance is now been attached to a theory that the blast was a result of a planted bomb.
The inconclusive findings showed that the police did not have the required forensic expertise to determine the nature of blasts.
Dr Shafi M. Niazmani, a forensic expert at a Malaysian university, said that the collection of trace evidence from the crime-scene is most important.
Referring to the Locard exchange principle, also known as Locard’s theory, he said that essentially it is applied to crime scenes in which the perpetrator(s) of a crime comes into contact with the scene, so the perpetrator(s) will both bring something into the scene and leave with something from the scene. Every contact leaves a trace.
“However, in order to come out with evidence we need thorough post-mortems, toxicology and collection of evidence from scene of crime and analysis of each and every material, but we don’t have good team of forensic, chemical, molecular biologist and ballistic experts,” observed Dr Nizamani.
Initially, the police declared a severed head and torso of a scout as that of the suspected suicide bomber. It later transpired that that the boy, Syed Muzammil Husain Shah, 15, was not the suicide bomber, but actually a scout escorting the Ashura procession and was very close to the blast.
Muzammil, his father Syed Haider Husain Shah, three cousins, Mulazim Husain Shah, Waseem Abbas and Musavir Husain Shah, and a Rangers official, Abdul Razzaq, were standing very close to the place where the blast had occurred. It was initially said that scout Muzammil and Rangers personnel Abdul Razzaq tried to stop the suspected suicide bomber who blew himself up.
However, the investigators are considering another theory that the explosives were planted in a pole-mounted box.
About the performance of the police and other agencies in solving the mystery of the Ashura blast, a source said: “In the given circumstances, what our investigators need is a (severed) head to declare it (blast) a suicide bombing”.
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