Akhlas Akkhlak is a Russian citizen accused of being linked to the assassination attempt against the former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf in Rawalpindi on 25 December 2003. He was kidnapped by the Pakistani intelligence on the same month and was detained and tortured at a secret location. Despite many elements showing his innocence, he was awarded a death sentence by a military tribunal with no right to appeal.
In 1979, Akkhlak Ahmed, a Pakistani student at the Medical Academy originally from Kashmir, married a Russian citizen in Volgograd (Russia). They gave birth to two children: Roman Akkhlak and Akhlas Akkhlak born on 17 July 1981, both holding a Russian passport.
On 13 March 2001, the two brothers travelled to Tashkent (Uzbekistan) in order to visit their father in Pakistan. As they were in need of money, their father contacted Major General Fazal Graford, Ambassador of Pakistan at Tashkent and requested him to lend some money to his sons. He did so and lent them 740 US dollars as confirmed by a receipt he issued. Meanwhile, they applied for a Pakistani visa and obtained it on 15 March 2001. Akhlas Akkhlak reached Karachi airport on 16 March 2001 and stayed with his father during his time in Pakistan.
Disappearance and torture
Akhlas Akkhlak disappeared in December 2003 from Kotli district (Azad Kashmir) in Pakistan. His father eventually managed to find that he had been arrested by the Military Intelligence of Pakistan (MI). He did not hear from his son for two years until January 2005: he received a call from an Army officer who informed him that his son was in Army custody and that he was about to be tried by a military tribunal. He also warned him: if he wanted to save the life of his son, in no circumstances could he disclose his condition to anyone. For seven months, Akhlas Akkhlak was put under unbearable physical torture as commonly reported by people held in secret by Pakistani intelligence services. On one occasion, he was buried alive and then unburied. This treatment eventually led him to sign confessions.
Akhlas Akkhlak was accused of having attempted to seduce persons in the military force of Pakistan from their allegiance to the government of Pakistan at various occasions and places between 2001 and 2003. He was also accused of being part of a criminal conspiracy aiming at organising a terrorist act by carrying out a suicide attack against the President of Pakistan and the chief of Army staff, and thus in order to destabilise the government of Pakistan. This attack was said to be the suicide bombing that occurred on 25 December 2003 at Jhanda Chichi (Rawaplindi) and resulted into the death of 17 people.
Trial and miscarriage of justice
Akhlas Akkhlak was tried by a martial court, even though he was not a member of the military. He was denied all aspects of due process. The fact that his confessions were obtained under duress during his disappearance was entirely disregarded. Moreover, the witnesses against him were all kept in confinement at Attock fort and had been in custody for over a year when their statements were recorded by the military court. They claimed duress and admitted that they had been promised to be released in exchange of their statements against the accused. Similarly, Akhlas Akkhlak presented a list of witnesses that could testify in his favor. All of them were subsequently picked up by Pakistani agencies and were therefore unable to appear before the court. Finally, it was alleged that Akhlas Akkhlak attempted to seduce military personal from their allegiance to duty on 2 March 2001.
However, there are evidences that he entered Pakistan only two weeks later (on 16 march 2001) as proven by the visa on his passport. Even though, the military court acknowledged that the passport was genuine, it refused to consider it stating that the document had not been produced by a competent witness (his father).
Denial of consular access
The Pakistani authorities denied that Akhlas Akkhlak was a Russian citizen and regarded him as a Pakistani national despite the numerous evidences brought by the family of the defendant. To support their claim, the Pakistani authorities issued him a fake identity card when he was in custody. However, this document was proven to be incorrect as the mother’s name stated on it was wrong. Nevertheless, the military tribunal accepted to take into consideration the ID card.
In 2009, Mr. Vladimir Lukin, Commissioner for Human Rights in the Russian Federation sent a letter to Mr. Asif Ali Zardari ,president of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, but this missive was left without response. For six years, the Russian embassy in Islamabad repeatedly sought consular access but faced the refusal of the Pakistani authorities.
Eventually, on 21 September 2011, the Pakistani authorities accepted the claim that Akhlaq Akhlas was a Russian national and granted a representative of the Russian embassy consular access.
Civilian Akhlas Akkhlak was tried by a military court at a secret location. He was awarded a death sentence.
Akhlas Akhlak is currently in the death row waiting for his execution. His petition before the Supreme Court of Pakistan was rejected as it was ruled that the decision made by a military is final and can suffer no appeal.
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