Two French journalists seek release of passports
KARACHI, Jan 2: The Sindh High Court on Friday issued notices to a deputy attorney-general and the FIA for Jan 5 in a petition by two French journalists against the seizure of their passports as security for their release on bail.
Advocates Nafees A. Siddiqi and Raheel Nafees submitted before Justice Mohammad Moosa K. Leghari that according to the bail order made by the high court on Dec 24, reporter Marc Epstein and photographer Jean Paul Guilloteau of the Paris weekly L’Express were to deposit Rs 100,000 each as surety along with personal bonds in like amount to the satisfaction of the trial court.
The trial sessions court, however, accepted a prosecution plea for deposit of their passports also pending the proceedings against them under the Foreigners Act for visiting certain Balochistan border areas in violation of the visa rules.
The lawyers said though the accused had valid visas to visit Pakistan on any dates up to March 8, the one-month permission granted to them under their visas was due to expire on Jan 7. They could not apply for extension of the permission without producing their passports, which were in the custody of the FIA.
Pressing for the acceptance of the criminal revision petition, they also argued that the court had ample inherent powers to quash the case against the French journalists for insufficiency of the material brought on record by the prosecution.
Justice Leghari allowed the lawyers’ plea for urgent hearing, exempted the petitioners from producing a certified copy of the impugned trial court order and issued notices to the respondents for Jan 5, when the petition would be heard by another vacation judge, Justice Mohammad Afzal Soomro.