Child trafficking case: British couple released on bail
The ordeal of a British couple arrested recently in Gilgit on charges of child trafficking came to an end after they were released on bail by a local court on Tuesday, sources said.
Earlier on Monday, the court had ordered that Hafeez Rajab Ali and Arsh Noor be transferred to a jail after their physical remand expired.
The court took the decision to release the couple on bail after evaluating the charges levelled against them, Alidad, counsel for the British citizens told The Express Tribune after the hearing.
The charges levelled against the couple included child trafficking and abduction, he said. They were granted bail after submitting surety bonds worth Rs200,000 each.
Alidad said that the couple was free to go but they would have to present themselves when summoned by the court.
The baby the couple had adopted was not handed back to them, even after they had secured bail.
Ali and Noor were arrested from Gilgit airport as they were about to board an aircraft for Islamabad along with an infant they had adopted from Gilgit.
The couple had denied charges of child trafficking and told investigators that they had fulfilled all formalities except for obtaining a No Objection Certificate from the home department of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) due to lack of awareness of local laws, during the investigation.
The couple was overjoyed after their release. The husband and wife had been locked up for more days than their case merited.
Their release was delayed due to the deteriorating law and order situation that led to the closure of government offices including courts for several days.
The couple’s counsel said that their mobile phones and other belongings taken into custody by the police have not been returned to them.
The issue of adoption without completing legal formalities had come into the spotlight after the Supreme Apellate Court of G-B had earlier taken suo motu notice of an adoption facilitated by a non-governmental organisation
Published in The Express Tribune, March 7th, 2012.