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ATC refers Isa video case to district court

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) has removed terrorism charges from the first information report (FIR) filed against a cleric who allegedly hurled threats at Supreme Court judge Qazi Faez Isa and also referred his case to a district court.

 Islamabad ATC judge Shahrukh Arjumand on Tuesday issued this order after hearing arguments on an application filed by the cleric, Maulvi Iftikhar Uddin Mirza, with regard to jurisdiction of the court.

 In June, a video clip of Mirza had gone viral on social media days after the Supreme Court quashed a presidential reference filed against Justice Isa for not disclosing his family members’ foreign properties in his wealth statement. In the video, the cleric could be heard saying: "Isa should be shot publicly."

 "Whoever is caught in embezzlement, whether it be Faez Isa or anyone else, should be executed through a firing squad. Those who indulge in such activities must be hanged and the entire city should be invited to watch it," the person in the video had said.

 Later, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) registered an FIR on basis of a complaint lodged by Justice Isa’s wife Sarina Isa while also including terrorism charges.

 Presenting his argument before the ATC judge on Tuesday, the counsel for the accused said Mirza had never had any contact with Justice Qazi Faez Isa and the two had never met each other. He claimed that the accused did not target anyone directly in the speech.

 The complainant’s counsel, however, read out the transcript of the cleric’s speech. The FIA’s prosecutor also asserted that the ATC has the jurisdiction to hear the case.

 During the arguments the lawyers cited various cases including that of Punjab former governor Salman Taseer. The court later asked the FIA’s investigation officer to present evidence in the court.

 The ATC judge after conclusion of the arguments briefly reserved the order while asking the authorities to present the accused in the court. When the court resumed hearing, the judge unveiled the order, removing terror charges from the FIR.

 He also ordered his office to refer the case to a district and sessions court. The apex court had also taken suo motu of Mirza’s video. He was, however, granted bail relief by the Islamabad High Court in August.

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