The criminal court has initiated a contempt of court probe against the chair of a presidential commission tasked with investigating unsolved murders and enforced disappearances.
Husnu Suood is facing the contempt of court charge over explosive allegations made at a press briefing by the inquiry commission about gangs nominating judges, providing private security, and colluding with judges and staff to “fix” the outcome of trials.
Citing contempt of court regulations enacted by the Supreme Court – which covers speech and actions outside of courtrooms – the criminal court announced Monday night a decision by its council of judges to initiate proceedings.
A five-judge panel was formed to conduct hearings.
“I was wrong. I thought I would be under fire from gangs not from courts,” Suood tweeted after the court’s announcement.
The preliminary hearing scheduled for 2:30pm on Tuesday was cancelled after Suood arrived with his defence lawyer Hisaan Hussain.
Reporters were initially told it would be a closed-door hearing. No reason was given for the cancellation.
A separate probe into Suood’s allegations is meanwhile ongoing by the Judicial Service Commission, a 10-member oversight body for the judiciary.
Suood submitted evidence to the watchdog last Sunday.
Earlier this month, the Department of Judicial Administration accused the presidential commission of refusing to provide information requested by the Supreme Court about Suood’s allegations.
At a rare press briefing, officials from the DJA – which functions under the Supreme Court’s supervision – condemned the allegations as “baseless” and threatened to take action against Suood, echoing the angry reaction of the criminal court last month.
At the inquiry commission’s press conference in late December, Suood said judges have used some gangs for their private security and that gangs were also connected to criminal court staff, some of whom were alleged to have revealed the identity of secret prosecution witnesses.
“No matter how well we investigate and send cases, I don’t believe we could have justice with the current judges at the criminal court. I think that’s the view of the whole legal community,” Suood told the press at the president’s office.