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Pakistan 15 June 2007

A year after kidnapped journalist’s body was discovered, government conceals results of investigations

Reporters Without Borders condemns the Pakistani government’s refusal, despite the existence of reports from three investigations, to go after those responsible for the murder of Tribal Areas journalist Hayatullah Khan, whose body was found exactly one year ago today.

A source who has seen the report prepared by judge Mohammad Raza Khan has told Reporters Without Borders that it contains information that would enable identification of the murderers. But the government, including information minister Mohammad Ali Durrani, is trying to forget about the case and perpetuate impunity,

"The government is yet again trying to cover up a murder in which military intelligence operatives may have been involved," the press freedom organisation said. "The government did initially agree to the creation of commissions of enquiry, to defuse the anger of Pakistan’s journalists and international organisations. But it has since tried to shelve the case. This is unacceptable."

Reporters Without Borders added: "We demand to know the truth about Khan’s abduction and murder and we support his relatives and colleagues who continue to call for the facts of the case to be revealed and for justice to be done."

Khan, a judge based in Peshawar, submitted the report of his enquiry to the authorities on 18 August 2006. But since then, the authorities have made no attempt to properly investigate the case any further.

Instead, the security services have tried to confuse public opinion by feeding the Pakistani media grotesque stories about Khan’s death, suggesting it was an act of revenge by an Uzbek jihadist militant who had been an unsuccessful suitor of Khan’s sister. The Khan family has described these claims as ridiculous.

Hayatullah Khan, who was the North Waziristan correspondent for two dailies, Ausaf and Nation, and a photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), was kidnapped in Mir Ali on 5 December 2005. This came only a few days after he produced evidence refuting Pakistani army claims that the death of Hamza Rabia, a leading Arab militant in Al-Qaeda, was the result of an accidental munitions explosion. Photographs taken by Khan at the scene indicated that Rabia was killed by a US missile that was probably fired from a plane or a drone. Khan’s body was found on 16 June 2006 in North Waziristan. He was handcuffed and he had been shot several times in the head. He looked very thin, suggesting that he suffered considerable deprivations during his months in captivity. (JPEG)




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