AFP

KASUR

Police arrested five accused of the child sex abuse scandal from the courtroom after a local court turned down their bail plea on Monday.

With the new arrests, the number of perpetrators in custody has reached 13, although there are reports about the arrest of another accused Saghir, son Bashir. However, the police neither confirmed, nor showed his arrest in record.

One accused Wasim Sindhi, who was also on pre-arrest bail, did not show up in the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Samina Hayat who cancelled his bail application too.

The five accused were on pre-arrest bail and had filed an application for confirmation of their bails. The accused including Saleem Akhtar Sherazi, a Health Department employee, Tanzeelur Rehman, a clerk at Lahore High Court, Attiqur Rehman, reportedly a staffer of Additional District and Sessions Court Lahore, Aleem Asif and Mohammad Yahya are among the 25 members gang involved in filming children being sexually abused.

On the other hand, Kasur Civil Judge Shumaila Yaqoob extended remand of the seven accused in child sexual abuse scandal. They were already on a 10 days remand in police custody.

The main accused Haseem Amir alias Haji, said to be a graduate and his younger brother Naseem Shahzad were remanded in the police custody for two days. Whereas Basharat alias Chevar, Faizan Majeed and his brother Ali Majeed, Abdul Manan alias Wattoo and Usman Khalid remanded in police custody for four days.

The police had requested further remand of the culprits to recover cellphones, porno movies, memory cards, CDs and ammunition from the accused.

In further development on Monday, the Lahore High Court chief justice fired Tanzeelur Rehman, one of the accused and a clerk at the LHC, from his service.

AFP adds: Pakistani police Monday arrested five more people over a major child sex abuse scandal after a lawyer for the victims accused them of protecting culprits and activists said the case was just a tip of the iceberg.

At least 280 children were filmed being sexually abused by a gang of 25 men who used hundreds of videos they produced to blackmail the youngsters’ parents, according to Latif Ahmed Sara, a lawyer and activist representing the victims.

Sara accused the police of dragging their feet - some of the videos date back to 2007. “The police are protecting the criminals, they are supporting them and have provided them an opportunity to escape the village,” Sara told reporters.

But an initial police probe, carried out last week at the behest of the provincial government described the allegations as “baseless”, a conclusion immediately rejected by local media and rights activists.

District police chief Rai Baber Saeed told AFP that officers were doing their best to catch those responsible, but insisted there were no more than 30 victims and accused activists and media of exaggerating.

“Police have 30 video clips of the scandal involving 15 people. Seven of them have been arrested while four or five are on pre-arrest bail and the rest are absconders,” he told AFP before the latest arrests. He described the case as an old one, dragged up recently by a group of villagers as a tactic in a dispute over the sale of some land.

The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said the property dispute did not detract from the horror of the abuse and demanded a thorough and impartial investigation, voicing doubts over the judicial commission ordered by the Punjab chief minister.

Mumtaz Hussain from Sahil, Pakistan’s leading campaign group working against child abuse, told AFP there were more than 3,500 registered cases last year - representing nearly 10 children a day being abused.But he said the true figure was far higher, perhaps as many as 10,000.