Govt reply sought on plea for release of journalist murder probe report

PESHAWAR: The Peshawar High Court on Tuesday directed the federal and provincial governments to respond to a petition seeking orders to release the report of a judicial inquiry into the abduction and killing of journalist Hayatullah around 14 years ago in North Waziristan area.

A bench consisting of Justice Ishtiaq Ibrahim and Justice Mohammad Nasir Mehfooz directed the interior and home secretaries to produce replies within 20 days.

The petition is filed by Ihsan Ahmad, brother of Hayatullah, who was kidnapped on Dec 5, 2005, and was found dead handcuffed on June 16, 2006.

Before abduction, the journalist had taken photographs of pieces of missiles allegedly fired by a US drone on a house in North Waziristan area. The drone attack had killed some militants and key Al-Qaeda leader Abu Hamza Rabia.

The respondents in the petition are the federal government through the interior secretary and KP government through home secretary.

The petitioner requested the court to issue orders for the government to make the inquiry report public and provide him with a copy of it.

While the court had sought comments from the government in April, the order has yet to be followed.

The petitioner’s lawyer, Tariq Afghan, said the government was bound by Section 15 of the Commission of Inquiry Act, 2017, to make the inquiry report public.

He said the deceased worked for two Urdu and English dailies as a North Waziristan correspondent.

The lawyer said a drone attack targeted a house in Esori village of Mirali tehsil on Dec 2, 2005, killing some militants and Hayatullah took pictures of pieces of missiles fired by the drone and published the news report in newspapers. He added that the journalist later received death threats and was kidnapped in Dec 2005.

Mr Tariq Afghan said the handcuffed body of the journalist was found in Khushalli Torikhel Wazir village of North Waziristan area.

He said several journalist bodies, especially Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists and Khyber Union of Journalists, had demanded of the government to arrest the people responsible for his murder for exemplary punishment.

The lawyer said the murder probe by a judicial commission was also demanded.

He said the former Supreme Court chief justice had ordered a judicial inquiry into the killing and that was supported by the family of the journalist.

Mr Tariq Afghan said family members of the deceased and some senior journalists had appeared before the inquiry commission led by Justice Mohammad Raza Khan of the Peshawar High Court.

He said finally, a 32-page inquiry report was submitted to the Supreme Court, while its copies were provided to the interior ministry and KP governor.

The lawyer said the journalist was survived by a wife and five children.

Source : Dawn

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