Pakistani court acquits retired police officer, 17 others in the 2018 killing of an aspiring model

A Pakistani court on Monday acquitted a retired senior police officer and 17 others, mostly policemen still serving on the force, in the 2018 killing of a 27-year-old aspiring model.

The young man, Naqeeb Ullah, was killed under suspicious circumstances, in what police at the time said was a raid on a militant hideout in the port city of Karachi. His killing drew nationwide condemnation from human rights activists and thousands from his Mehsud tribe rallied in Islamabad and elsewhere in Pakistan.

Rao Anwar, who at the time was Karachi’s police chief, and the others were arrested soon after the raid and went on trial in 2019. A subsequent government probe concluded that Ullah, who hailed from the South Waziristan region, once a Taliban stronghold, had no ties to militants.

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Pakistani police officer Rao Anwar responds to a reporter in Karachi, Pakistan, on Jan. 16, 2018. A Pakistani court on Jan. 23, 2023, acquitted Anwar and 17 others, mostly policemen still serving on the force, in the 2018 killing of an aspiring model.
(AP Photo/Shakil Adil, File)

Jabran Nasir, an attorney for Ullah’s family, said the court in Karachi acquitted Anwar and the others due to lack of evidence after the prosecution failed to prove the charges raised against them. The lawyer said he would consult the family and may file an appeal.

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Ullah’s family has claimed that he was arrested weeks prior to his killing and that alleged the raid was staged as a “fake shootout.”

Anwar, credited with arresting scores of militants while he was police chief, was suspended following the raid and barred from leaving Pakistan. Later on, during the trial, he retired from service.

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After Monday’s ruling, Anwar said “justice has been done” and announced he would demand he be reinstated because of a wrongful suspension.