ATM robber died of police torture: Forensic report

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An ATM robber, whose video had gone viral on social media last month, died of physical and mental torture at the hands of the Rahim Yar Khan police, suggested a forensic examination of the samples collected from his body.

In the viral footage, Salahuddin was seen making strange faces at the camera while robbing an ATM in Faisalabad last month. He was arrested for a robbery in Rahim Yar Khan around two weeks ago.

A day after being arrested, the police announced that he had died in their custody. However, Salahuddin’s father, Mohammad Afzaal, claimed his son was brutally tortured.

The law enforcers did not initially make his post-mortem report public. However, the report described marks on the deceased’s right hand, right leg and near his right eye upon its release later.

Samples from Salahuddin’s body had been sent to the Punjab Forensic Science Agency for an examination. The PFSA confirmed in its report that the deceased had been subjected to both physical and mental torture.

On the basis of the PFSA report, a medical board, led by Sheikh Zayed Hospital’s medical superintendent Dr Ghulam Rabbani, said that it was of “unanimous opinion” that the torture marks on Salahuddin’s body were “ante-mortem (occurring before death) in nature & caused by Blunt Means — confirming ante-mortem physical violence”.

“Possibility of death due to combined effects of ante-mortem injuries mentioned in postmortem report, inhalation abuse, restrictive lungs disease & neurogenic shock cannot be ruled out,” it said.

A day earlier, a Rahim Yar Khan court allowed exhumation of Salahuddin’s body.

Salahuddin’s father had filed for exhumation of his son’s body for a second post-mortem examination, maintaining that the bruises on his son’s body were not identified in the autopsy report.

A provincial medical board would conduct the second post-mortem after the exhumation of Salahuddin’s body.

A judicial inquiry into the case formally commenced on September 7 after the court of Rahim Yar Khan special magistrate recorded statements of the Sheikh Zayed Hospital medical superintendent, the bank’s employees and police officials nominated in the FIR.

The Punjab inspector general removed on September 5 the Rahim Yar Khan district police officer. A day earlier, DSP Abbas Akhtar was suspended for “misconduct/inefficiency”.

Salahuddin’s father had lodged a case against three police officials over his son’s custodial death. The FIR was registered under sections 302 (punishment for murder) and 34 (common intention) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

The suspects included City A-Division’s SHO Mehmoodul Hassan and investigation officers Sub-Inspector Shafaat Ali and Assistant Sub-Inspector Matloob Hussain. Other policemen who were on duty when Salahuddin died were also named.

“I bathed his body with my own hands and saw his bruises with my own eyes,” Afzaal said on SAMAA TV show ‘Awaz’ on September 4.

He described the marks on Salahuddin’s body and said, “The skin inside his right arm was burnt, either with electrocution or an iron and there were big wounds on his left arm, which had been stitched up.

“One of his eyes was black and swollen, his hands and fingers were discoloured, like they had been tied with ropes,” Afzaal said.

The Punjab police once again came under fire for their heavy-handed dealing of arrested suspects after the case surfaced.