A judge at the High Court in Islamabad, Pakistan, has ordered the Pakistani police to open a criminal investigation into the CIA’s involvement in a drone strike that killed three people, including a teenager, on December 31 2009.
Ruling in the case of Kareem Khan, a resident of the country’s North Waziristan region whose brother and son were among the dead, Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui ordered police to examine whether Jonathan Banks, former CIA station chief in Islamabad, and John Rizzo, former CIA General Counsel, are guilty of committing murder, waging war against Pakistan and offences under the provisions of the Terrorism Act 1997 for their involvement in authorizing the New Years’ Eve strike.
Mr Khan first brought the case in 2011 with support from the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (FFR) in Pakistan. In February this year Mr Khan, who has been an outspoken critic of the covert US programme, was illegally detained for ten days by unknown men in police uniforms, ahead of a European trip where he spoke to parliamentarians about the civilian impact of the US drone programme.
Commenting on today’s judgement, Kareem Khan said: “Today’s order is a victory for all those innocent civilians that have been killed in US-led drone strikes in Pakistan. I also feel heartened that people like me in Waziristan might now also be able to get justice for the wrongs being done to them. I sincerely hope that the authorities now do their job and investigate the culprits”.
Jennifer Gibson, attorney for legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Khan, said: “Today’s decision marks a crucial first step in finally providing justice for people like Kareem — the innocent victims of the CIA’s illegal drone wars. The message is clear — there can be no impunity for the killing of innocent people. The police in Pakistan should move to launch their investigation as soon as possible.”