Test of Ijaz’s BlackBerry sets: Memo panel’s secretary to visit London
ISLAMABAD: The memo commission asked its secretary on Saturday to proceed to London for forensic test of BlackBerry handsets of American businessman Mansoor Ijaz allegedly used in exchange of messages with former ambassador Husain Haqqani for preparing a memorandum delivered to former US military chief Admiral Mike Mullen.
The commission, headed by Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa, rejected an application filed by Mr Haqqani seeking presentation of the documents produced by his counsel Zahid Hussain Bokhari in his defence.
The commission said the forensic test and submission of its report to the Supreme Court might take time and, therefore, the commission’s secretary, Raja Jawad Abbas Hassan, might request the court for another extension to complete investigation into the memo scandal. The Supreme Court has already granted two extensions to the commission — one in January and another in March. The second extension will expire on May 12.
The commission directed its secretary to contact a forensic expert in London and allowed the parties in the memo case to be present at the time of forensic test of Mr Ijaz’s handsets. The test’s report, along with an affidavit of the forensic expert, will be submitted to the commission.
The commission asked the secretary to ensure privacy of Mr Ijaz during the forensic test of his BlackBerry sets and allowed the businessman to apply for the return of his devices after the completion of the process.
Rejecting Mr Haqqani’s application, the commission observed that the “documents sought to be exhibited were not produced by the witness (Mr Haqqani) himself; they were not original and the witness has not yet been cross-examined”.
It said some of the documents required privacy and, if exhibited, they would become public documents which might be against the interest of the applicant. Some of the documents, including “admissions and denials” of Mr Haqqani to the evidence produced by Mr Ijaz, were
neither signed by the former ambassador nor his counsel, it said, adding that had Mr Haqqani submitted a reply to the businessman’s evidence, the commission would have decided about the forensic test much earlier.
Sajid Tanoli, another counsel for Mr Haqqani, opposed the forensic test of Mr Ijaz’s handsets. He argued that the American businessman should appear in the witness box if he wanted the forensic test of his devices.
The counsel requested the commission to allow his signatures on Mr Haqqani’s documents. But Advocate Akram Sheikh, representing Mr Ijaz, opposed this, saying that an applicant or his counsel could not sign a document after 24 hours of its submission. He said the denial of Mr Haqqani was evasive and it had no legal value.
Advocate Sheikh said his client was ready for the forensic test of his handsets but could not give these to the commission for an indefinite period because it was the sole evidence he had about the memorandum.
He said the government and Mr Haqqani had already served on his client a legal notice and intended to file a damage suit against him in the United States, adding that the BlackBerry handsets are the only evidence Mr Ijaz had to prove his innocence in the US courts.