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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Pakistani court orders release of Taliban-linked cleric

IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency

Islamabad, April 16 , IRNA -- Supreme Court of Pakistan Wednesday ordered release of prayers leader of Islamabad’s Red Mosque, where a bloody gun-battle between Taliban-linked militants and security forces claimed lives of over 100 people in 2007, defense lawyer said.

Maulana Abdul Aziz, was arrested when the security forces attacked the mosque and nearby a girls seminary ‘Jamia Hafsa’, to expel students, who resisted the forces for three days in July 2007.

Deputy Imam of the mosque Abdul Rashid Ghazi and his mother were among those who died in the fighting.

The government had filed 27 cases against Maulana Abdul Aziz including kidnapping of Chinese women, holding policemen hostage, killing a paramilitary soldier and occupying a government-run Children Library.

A three-member bench of the Supreme Court in its order observed that there was no sufficient material available against Mualana Abdul Aziz which is why a bail is granted.

Defense lawyer Shaukat Siddiqui said that his client has been granted bail in all the 28 cases against him by the Islamabad High Court whereas in one case he was acquitted.

He said that Maulana Abdul Aziz was not involved in forcible occupation of the Children Library neither he ordered such an action.

Special prosecutor general, representing the government said that the Children Library was occupied on the orders of Maulana Abdul Aziz. He also read out the statement of the security guard of the Children Library in support of his arguments which stated that the library was occupied on the orders of Red Mosque or Lal Masjid administration.

Analysts say that the release of Maulana Abdul Aziz is the result of an understanding with the government. Maulana Aziz has already been shifted from a government-owned rest house to a private house.

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