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Pakistan 20 September 2007

Police re-arrest Munir Mengal after he is cleared by Baluchistan High Court

Reporters Without Borders voiced indignation at the authorities’ hounding of Munir Mengal, one of the managers of Baloch Voice television.He was released by the Baluchistan High Court on 12 September saying he was guilty of no crime, only to be rearrested by police two days later.

The inspector general of police in Baluchistan told journalists in Quetta on 14 September that Mengal had been arrested by the criminal investigation bureau.

“It is outrageous that 17 months after being kidnapped by military secret services in Karachi, Munir Mengal has still not been released,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “The authorities should respect the High Court ruling. His latest arrest is illegal de facto and an insult to the rule of law,” it said.

Lawyers for Mengal decided to take a new case to the Baluchistan High Court against the provincial police and the security forces.

Elsewhere, authorities in Sindh province, ordered to explain the journalist’s disappearance, had said on 19 September that he was no longer being held by their service.

10.08 - Military intelligence hands Baloch TV station director over to police after holding him secretly for 16 months

Reporters Without Borders today reiterated its call for the release of Munir Mengal, the head of the Baloch Voice TV station, who was arrested by police in Qalat, in the southwestern province of Balochistan, on being freed on 6 August by the intelligence agency that had been holding him at a secret location for the past 16 months. He is now being held in Khudzar prison under a 30-day custody order.

"It is unacceptable that Mengal is not yet free after being kidnapped by military intelligence officers in April 2006," the press freedom organisation said. "No official explanation has ever being given for his ’disappearance’ although everyone knew it was yet another case of abduction by the intelligence services. The provincial and federal authorities must release him at once and give him and his family an apology."

Many Baloch civilians are alleged to have been secretly detained or summarily executed by the Pakistani security services as part of the fight against Baloch separatists.

Qalat police chief Abdul Aziz Jhakrani confirmed that Mengal has been arrested under the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance. A journalist familiar with the case asked: "How could he disrupt public order if he was already being held by the security forces."

Members of Mengal’s family were able to see him in Khudzar prison on 6 August. They told journalists from the Baloch capital of Quetta that he was "weak and suffering from unexplained ailments." A lawyer told Reporters Without Borders that his transfer from the custody of intelligence agents to the police was positive and increased his chances of being freed on bail.

Mengal went missing after landing at Karachi international airport on 4 April 2006, three months before his TV station, which is based outside of the country, was due to begin satellite broadcasting.

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