Pakistani grooms face terror charges over wedding fireworks

Pakistani grooms face terror charges over wedding fireworks
A man holding a firework in Pakistan.

KARACHI - Two newly-wed brothers in Pakistan could be facing long prison sentences after police arrested them on terrorism charges for letting off firecrackers during their joint wedding ceremony.

It is a longstanding, if dangerous, custom at Pakistani weddings to set off fireworks and fire weapons in the air in celebration, but police in Karachi said this time the happy couples went too far.

Police officer Abbas Golarchi, who booked the grooms along with three other people, told AFP on Tuesday they were charged under the explosives provisions of anti-terrorism legislation.

"Very powerful crackers were being used during the marriage ceremony creating fear among the neighbourhood, a densely populated area of the city," Abbas Golarchi said.

Golarchi said the charges are non-bailable and the five arrested are in police custody awaiting a remand hearing expected on Wednesday.

If found guilty they could face long prison sentences or even the death sentence, though this is unlikely as no-one was harmed during the joint wedding celebration.

Rights campaigners say Pakistan's anti-terrorism legislation and anti-terrorism courts are frequently misused to prosecute cases that have nothing to do with militancy.

More generally, Pakistani police are often criticised for their heavy-handed approach.

In April last year, police in the eastern city of Lahore booked a nine-month-old boy on an attempted murder charge after his family members allegedly threw bricks at officers trying to collect an unpaid bill.

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