May 29, 2016 – thediplomat.com – At least five officers of the Pakistan Navy received death sentences in a secret military trial for allegedly trying to hijack a Pakistan Navy vessel to attack a U.S. Navy refueling ship, Daily Pakistan reports.
The officers were convicted of planning and orchestrating the September 6, 2014, attack on the Karachi Naval Dockyard located at Pakistan’s Arabian Sea coast. The attack was thwarted by Pakistani military personnel with purportedly two attackers killed and four arrested alive (some sources cite 10 killed, including four rogue naval officers).
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The attackers allegedly attempted to hijack the F-22P Zulfiquar-class frigate Zulfiqar, the lead ship of its class, with the intention of using the ship’s missiles to attack a U.S. Navy refuel vessel in the Arabian Sea (other sources claim that the target was a U.S. aircraft carrier).
According to the father of one convict, retired Major Saeed Ahmed, his son, Sub-Lieutenant Hammad Ahmed, along with four other officers—Irfanullah, Muhammad Hammad, Arsalan Nazeer, and Hashim Naseerhas—has been convicted of the attack on the dockyard on April 12 by a Navy Tribunal, Dawn newspaper reports.
“My son told me that a naval court had awarded death penalty to him and four other officers after a secret trial,” Ahmed said. “The convicted officers informed me that the naval court concluded the trial on April 12 and promulgated the sentence on April 14.”
Furthermore, Ahmed said that the five were charged with mutiny, conspiracy, carrying weapons in the dockyard, and also with having links to the terror group Islamic State. (Previous reports spoke of links to Al-Qaeda.) He also said that authorities denied his son a fair trial and that the navy did not provide him with the court proceedings.
“I wrote a letter to the Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the navy on August 15, 2015, asking him to provide the opportunity of a defense counsel to my son,” Ahmed said. “The navy JAG on Sept 21 replied that the option of defense counsel would be available at the time of trial.”
However, the hearing had already been concluded at an undisclosed location while Ahmed was waiting for the commencement of trial. He only recently found out that his son along with the other four suspects had been transferred to the Karachi central prison.
According to Daily Pakistan, “the legal counsel of Sub-Lieutenant Hammad Ahmed, (…) said that naval officials had not specified details of the crime, trial and the punishment. He added that once these details were provided, his client would file an appeal at the Naval Appeal Court.”
Ahmed suspects that the five sub-lieutenants have been made scapegoats given that this was not the first time that security lapses at the base have come to light in recent years.
The Pakistan Navy has so far not publicly commented on the trial.