Judgment due tomorrow in CIA drones murder case in Pakistan

April 11, 2012

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**UPDATE: this judgment will now be delivered on April 17 **

An Islamabad Court will hand down judgment tomorrow (Thursday) over the Pakistani police’s failure to investigate two reports by Pakistani citizens on the murder of innocent civilians by CIA unmanned aerial vehicles (drones).

Pakistani Kareem Khan, assisted by lawyer Shahzad Akbar of Islamabad’s Foundation for Fundamental Rights, filed a judicial review of his local police force after they failed to act on his urgent FIR (First Information Report) of the murder of his son and brother in his ancestral village. Judge Basharat Mufti reserved his decision to be announced tomorrow in the Court of Additional District & Sessions Judge, Islamabad, which sits from 8am.

The precise time will be announced in the cause list at the Court tomorrow morning. Mr Khan is seeking remedy under the Pakistani Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 (Cr.P.C) over the uninvestigated murders of his son and brother by a drone strike on December 31, 2009 in Machi Khel, North Waziristan.  On December 14, 2010, Mr Khan filed an application with Islamabad’s Secretariat Police Station to register an FIR against Jonathan Banks, then-Station Chief of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for his involvement in the killings.

On July 19, 2011, now joined by two other victims, Sadaullah Khan and Maezol Khan, he filed a second FIR against John A. Rizzo who, as General Counsel of the CIA in the USA, had authorized the murders. In both cases the police received the application but failed to register the FIR or investigate the matter. Mr Khan’s family had no involvement in terrorism nor animosity with their assailants; his brother Asif Iqbal was a secondary school teacher in Datta Khel and his son Zahin ullah Khan worked in the Government Girls’ School Mira Khan Kot.

Shahzad Akbar, Director of the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, said: “This is a courageous attempt by a Pakistani citizen to enforce his constitutional rights and to bring the rule of law to bear on the US’s illegal drone killings in Pakistan. We hope the judge will do the right thing by protecting Mr Khan’s rights as a Pakistani citizen and upholding the law of Pakistan.”

Reprieve’s director Clive Stafford Smith said: “The first obligation of any government is to protect its citizens, particularly from murder. Pakistani police owe it to their compatriots to investigate these killings of innocent civilians on Pakistani soil. Pakistan is not at war with America, so there can be no legal justification for these drone attacks, which are causing vastly more harm than good.”


1. For further information please contact Shahzad Akbar on +92 312 5055971; or go to http://www.reprieve.org.uk/investigations/drones/

2. Karim Khan’s argument in this case and his first FIR report and second FIR report can be found on Reprieve’s website.

3. Reprieve, a legal action charity, uses the law to enforce the human rights of prisoners, from death row to Guantánamo Bay. Reprieve investigates, litigates and educates, working on the frontline, to provide legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves. Reprieve promotes the rule of law around the world, securing each person’s right to a fair trial and saving lives.  Clive Stafford Smith is the founder of Reprieve and has spent 25 years working on behalf of people facing the death penalty in the USA.

Reprieve’s current casework involves representing 15 prisoners in the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, assisting over 70 prisoners facing the death penalty around the world, and conducting ongoing investigations into the rendition and the secret detention of ‘ghost prisoners’ in the so-called ‘war on terror.’

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