RAWALPINDI – The Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) No 1 Rawalpindi on Saturday dropped the charges against four men facing trial for their alleged connection with Faisal Shehzad, jailed in the United States for the failed Times Square bombing attempt in New York, because of lack of evidences. The judge, Shahid Rafique, acquitted the accused - Humbal Akhtar and Shoaib Mughal (Rawalpindi), Shahid Hussain (Islamabad) and Faisal Shabbir Abbasi (Murree) – of the charges of helping Faisal Shehzad, a US citizen of Pakistani origin, in the terror plot.

Defence Counsel Basharatullah Khan Advocate informed media men that the Islamabad Police neither proved their links with Faisal nor recovered any offensive material from their possession. He said charges of their links with Taliban in the tribal areas and sending money to Faisal could also not be proved before the court. He said the only evidence against the four accused was their confessional statements before a judicial magistrate in Islamabad on the day when they were supposed to be in the Adiala Jail after the ATC No 1 sent them to prison on a 14-day judicial remand. He said the prosecution also failed to establish the legality of the confessions as the accused in the statement had said that they were nabbed by intelligence agencies before they were arrested by the officials from the Sihala Police Station.

“I submitted the complete record of proceedings in the Supreme Court and before the judicial commission on missing persons after these men were taken away by the agencies,” said the lawyer, adding that according to a forensic report from the FIA that there was no hate material in the computer and CDs recovered from the custody of the accused showing their links with Faisal in the US or with Taliban.

Khan said the prosecution even failed to produce the copies of any order from the US court convicting Faisal Shahzad in the Times Square botched bombing.

According to the prosecution, the accused sent $13,000 to the US but failed to prove that they had made the transaction.

“I am not satisfied with the judgment,” said FIA Special Public Prosecutor Muhammad Tayyab Shah, adding he would file appeal against the verdict in Islamabad High Court after going through the detailed verdict.

It is pertinent to mention that the four men were apprehended by the Sihala Police Station officials from Islamabad Highway in September 2010. Police also recovered a vehicle, a laptop and pro-Taliban literature from their possession.