Pak convicted army and civilian officers sent to prison, have 40 days to appeal

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Nation special report

ISLAMABAD: Two retired senior officers of Pakistan Army and a civilian, charged with espionage and subsequently convicted on May 30, have been handed over to civilian jail authorities.

Confirming this, the ISPR Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor has said that the officers had been immediately arrested upon intelligence about their involvement in espionage. They remained under the military’s custody throughout their trials.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa had endorsed the sentences of the three officers.

It may be recalled that the three men — Lieutenant General (retd) Javed Iqbal, Brigadier (retd) Raja Rizwan, and Dr Wasim Akram, an employee at a sensitive organisation — were convicted of espionage activities and leaking sensitive information to foreign spy agencies. The officers were tried under Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and Official Secret Act by separate Field General Court Martial (FGCM) for separate cases.

Lt-Gen (retd) Javed Iqbal was awarded 14 years rigorous imprisonment. Brigadier (r) Raja Rizwan and Dr Wasim Akram were awarded death sentences. According to informed sources, all three convicted officers have the right to appeal against their sentences. Earlier, it was stated that the decisions were not appealable and the COAS has endorsed the sentences that mean the process has been completely quickly.

The sources pointed out that this is not the first time that army officers have been sentenced but definitely the capital punishment was awarded for the first time to a senior military officer. “Almost 400 people of different ranks in the military have been punished of various natures during last two years, the sources claimed.

Recently, Lt. Gen ® Mohammad Afzal and Major General ® Khalid Zahid Akhtar were court martial and sentenced. They were charged with investing Rs 4.3bn of National Logistic Cell (NLC) into Stock Market.

Lt. Gen ® Asad Durrani also faced Court Martial. He was charged with writing a book in association with S.A. Daulat.

Now all three convicted officers are treated as normal inmates in a prison and two out of them would be hanged to death by civilian executioner. They have 40 days to appeal in Appellate Military Court but chances of reducing and changing the sentences are remote.

The observers comment that this decision is a clear message to everyone by the Army that no one would be spared and the Army is very strict in taking such decisions. “The decision has been taken at a time when certain PTM leaders and activists have been taken into custody and they are being investigated into anti-Pakistan and anti-Army activities.
Who is who?

According to sources, all three persons were apprehended some eight months ago and formal enquiry started against them. The trial continued for four months at the military court. Somehow, the news of arrests leaked in social media then formal media. In a bid to avoid spreading rumours and speculations, Major Gen Asif Ghafoor preferred to detail at a press conference.

 Lt. GenJaved Iqbal, who received 14 years rigorous imprisonment, is one of the most senior military officers and had been Commander of most important Brigade 111 which is responsible for maintaining the security in capital Islamabad and supervises the chain of command if sitting government is toppled.

He had been Director General, Military Operations, again a very important portfolio in Pak Army. He also held the position as Corp Commander, Bahalwapur. He had also been appointed as Adjutant General.

Retired Brigadier Raja Rizwan, who awarded death sentence, had been Defence Attache at Pakistan Embassy in Frankfurt (Germany). Details of other activities have not been emerged sofar but may be sooner or later.

Dr Doctor Wasim Akram, who is awarded death sentence, was employed at a sensitive organisation as an engineer and had free access to important information and places. He passed nuclear information and documents to a foreign agency.

In a talk show at Dawn TV on Thursday evening, the participants discussed this issue and claimed that these people were providing information to CIA.