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The BBC's Shahid Malik in Lahore
Children went missing over a very long period of time
 real 28k

Sunday, 12 December, 1999, 14:43 GMT
Lahore police charged with murder

Police charging protestors Police used tear gas to disperse protestors on Saturday


By Shahid Malik in Lahore

Four Pakistan police officials, including two senior officers have been charged with the murder of a key witness in the case of alleged killings of about 100 children in and around Lahore.

Three of the accused, who include a superintendent and a deputy superintendent, have been arrested.

The charges come after a judicial report concluded 32 year-old Ishaq Billa was tortured to death while in police custody.


Ishaq Billa jumped out of a third storey window Ishaq Billa: Died after "jumping out of a window"
Police said that Ishaq Billa had committed suicide by jumping out of a second floor window during interrogation on Tuesday.

But after the preliminary findings of the judicial inquiry into the mysterious death were made public late on Saturday evening, the government of the Punjab province ordered a murder case to be registered against the four police officials, who had charge of the key witness.

In recent years, human rights organisations and other groups in Pakistan have strongly criticised dozens of extra-judicial killings, particularly in what are commonly known here as "fake police encounters".


A parent identifies her missing child's slippers A parent identifies her missing child's slippers
But this is the first time that a murder case has been registered against police officials, within four days of a doubtful custodial death.

On Saturday, police used batons and fired tear gas shells in Lahore to disperse demonstrators, including school children, protesting against the alleged murder of about 100 teenage boys by self-confessed serial killer, Javed Iqbal.

The leader of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri, who led the protest, expressed dissatisfaction with the police handling of investigations into the children's case, which, he said, should be entrusted to the military authorities.

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See also:
07 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Police detained after suspect's death
04 Dec 99 |  South Asia
Parents' distress over Lahore child murders
30 Oct 99 |  World
World's worst killers

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