Accessibility links

Breaking News

Pakistanis Nab Ex-Lawmaker Over Pole's Murder

A TV grab shows kidnapped Polish engineer Piotr Stanczak in captivity in February 2009.
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -- Pakistani police have arrested a former member of parliament for his alleged involvement in the beheading of a Polish engineer by Taliban militants in February, his brother and an aide have said.

Shah Abdul Aziz, a cleric and former lawmaker from an Islamist party, was apprehended after the main person accused in the case, a militant named Attaullah Khan, told police he had killed geologist Piotr Stanczak on Aziz's orders, his brother said.

"They're saying that he's behind the killing of the engineer as Khan told police my brother ordered him to do this," Mehboob Elahi told Reuters.

Police officials were not immediately available for comment.

Stanczak was kidnapped in September while visiting one of his company's sites near Attock city, about 65 kilometers west of the capital, Islamabad.

Taliban militants released a video tape in February of them beheading him, saying they were doing so because the government had refused to free 60 captured insurgents.

Elahi said his brother had been missing for more than a month and that it was only after a high court pressed authorities to release him that the charges were leveled.

The case against Aziz was "false and fabricated," he said.

An antiterrorism court (ATC) in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, sent Aziz on a three-day judicial remand on July 25, during which he will remain in custody, he said.

Aziz's close aide admitted the cleric had close links with militants, but said he used those ties to try to help the government secure the release of kidnapped people, including Stanczak.

"There's no doubt he has links and several times, the government asked him to negotiate with militants in kidnapping cases," said the aide, Khalid Khuwaja, a former intelligence officer and spokesman for a human rights group.

Assaults on foreign aid workers, company employees, and diplomats have increased in Pakistan over the past year, especially in areas near the border with Afghanistan, where government forces are battling the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

This month, gunmen shot dead a United Nations worker and a security guard at a refugee camp near the northwestern city of Peshawar during a kidnapping attempt.