Islamabad, Sep 22 (efe-epa).- A Pakistan court on Tuesday sentenced two men to death and four others to life imprisonment after ruling that a 2012 factory fire that killed more than 260 workers in the port city of Karachi was not an accident but a case of arson.
The anti-terrorism court said the garment factory was deliberately set on fire by the accused in retaliation for non-payment of extortion by its owners.
“The court sentenced Zubair, also known as Charya, and Abdul Rehman, also known as Bhola, to death and handed factory’s four gatekeepers Shahrukh, Fazal Ahmed, Arshad Mehmood and Ali Mohammad life imprisonment for facilitating the crime,” Special Public Prosecutor Sajid Mehboob told EFE.
More than 260 factory workers were burnt alive, including at least 17 charred beyond recognition, and 50 injured when the multistory Ali Enterprises was set on fire in Karachi’s Baldia Town on Sep. 11, 2012.
Rauf Siddiqui, a then-provincial minister from Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and three others, Iqbal Adeeb Khanum, Omar Hassan Qadri, and Abdul Sattar Khan, were acquitted for lack of evidence, the prosecutor said.
Abdul and Rehman were associated with the MQM, which is currently a part of the coalition central government led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
According to a probe report made public in July, the fire was not an accident but a planned terror activity carried out for non-payment of a sum of $200,000 demanded in extortion.
After the incident, the factory owners fled to Dubai following life threats.
The blaze, the deadliest in the country, shocked the country and triggered outrage as survivors narrated horrific stories about how they were trapped inside the building with its doors locked.
Rehman was arrested in a hotel in central Bangkok in 2016 after Pakistani authorities alerted the Thai police that he had traveled to Thailand.
MQM leader Faisal Subzwari said in a tweet that the acquittal of Siddiqui had proved that his party had nothing to do with the case. EFE-EPA