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Pakistan 16 June 2008

"Who killed my father ?" Journalist Hayatullah Khan’s daughter asks on second anniversary of his murder

Reporters Without Borders calls on the Pakistani federal government and information minister Sherry Rehman in particular to publish the results of the investigations into the death of Hayatullah Khan, a reporter in Pakistan’s northeastern Tribal Areas, whose body was found two years ago today, six months after his still unexplained abduction.

"Pakistan is currently outraged by the death of 11 of its soldiers as a result of a US bombardment last week, but it was precisely because Khan had covered an early US bombing on Pakistani soil that he was kidnapped, tortured and killed," Reporters Without Borders said. "The previous government deliberately refused to shed light on the abduction and murder of this journalist who knew too much. But the new authorities in Islamabad and Peshawar have a duty to identify and punish those responsible, whoever they were. We call for justice to be done."

Fareshta Hayat, Khan’s seven-year-old daughter, said, on the eve of the second anniversary of his death: "I want to know who killed my father". Khan’s younger brother, Ehsanullah Khan, said: "I want the government to protect Hayatullah’s children, who are afraid of being the victims of a new attack after their mother was killed in a bombing."

Peshawar-based judge Mohammad Raza Khan submitted a report on the journalist’s murder to the authorities on 18 August 2006. Since then, there has been no serious investigation. A source who was able to see the case file said Judge Khan’s report contained evidence that would permit identification of the murderers. The authorities also have two other investigative reports on the murder. None of them has been published.

The North Waziristan correspondent of the dailies Ausaf and Nation and photographer for the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), Khan was kidnapped in North Waziristan on 5 December 2005, just a few days after he had produced evidence refuting Pakistani army claims that the death of Hamza Rabia, an Al-Qaeda Arab leader, 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 had been handcuffed and shot several times in the head. He looked very thin, suggesting that he suffered considerable deprivations during his months in captivity. Khan’s widow, a school teacher, was killed by a bomb planted next to her bedroom outside her home in Mir Ali, in North Waziristan, on 16 November 2007. Her five children, aged 2 to 10, who were sleeping in an adjoining bedroom, were not injured by the blast.

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