PESHAWAR ( MEDIA )
For the first time in the province, an anti-terrorism court (ATC) conducted a trial through video link on Monday, connecting the accused from Central Prison Peshawar to the courtroom where lawyers and the judge were present.
One screen with a camera was fixed on one side of the courtroom while similar equipment was installed in the office of the jail’s superintendent where the accused was present.
The accused could see the entire courtroom, including the judge, lawyers and public prosecutor. The reader of the courtroom could focus the camera on the person asking questions from the accused.
Police arrested Shoaib on April 20 this year while he was allegedly planting around eight kilogrammes of explosives to destroy a police check post in Safon area, in the jurisdiction of Badhaber police station. It was decided that the accused will not be taken to the ATC from prison due to security reasons and trials will be conducted via video link.
Arrangements were made on Saturday to conduct the trial with a video link established between the jail and the courtroom, situated on Khyber Road inside the old judicial complex. However, the proceedings could not take place due to the suspension of electricity, after which the judge fixed Monday to hear the case.
On the first day of the trial, Badhaber SHO Granullah, prosecuting sub-inspector Ijaz and judicial magistrate Muhammad Ilyas recorded their statements. The accused will record his statement through video link on June 6.
A court official said this is the first time such arrangements have been made where a trial will be conducted speedily without the hassle of bringing high-profile suspects to court.
Answering a question, the official said such trials are conducted under the anti-terrorism law as sometimes bringing the suspects to court can create security problems.
He further said the system was made possible thanks to the efforts of the Peshawar High Court where Justice Yahya Afridi, who is the monitoring judge of all ATCs in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, ordered to have the arrangements made.
The accused, Shoaib, on May 2 confessed before the court of the judicial magistrate that on April 20 he, along with an accomplice, had plotted to destroy the police check post with explosives. The accused further informed the court that a police party reached the spot and he was arrested red-handed while his accomplice fled.
The police said the accused belongs to Khyber Agency and has links with a militant organisation of the area which also provided him training.
Shifting of high-profile militants to courts for trials is considered a risky job even though the Central Prison Peshawar is just around 300 yards away from the court. Camp courts are also established inside the jail when necessary so judges can hold trials there instead.