Pak: Travel restrictions on Osama family lifted
Last Updated: Friday, October 07, 2011, 00:22
Islamabad: The Pakistani judicial commission investigating the killing of Osama bin Laden on Thursday lifted travel restriction on al-Qaeda leader's family and directed authorities to register a case of "high treason" against a doctor charged of helping the CIA.

The commission headed by former Supreme Court judge Javed Iqbal withdrew its earlier order barring the widows and children of bin Laden from leaving Pakistan, saying it had completed questioning them.

The panel had interviewed bin Laden's three widows and two daughters for the first time on Tuesday.

"The commission has taken statements and investigated the wives and daughters of Osama bin Laden. They are no more required to the commission. Consequently, restraining order...may be treated as withdrawn to the extent of (bin Laden's) family," the statement said.

The commission also directed the authorities to register a case of "high treason" against government doctor Shakeel Afridi detained on charges of working for the CIA to obtain DNA samples of people living in the Al Qaeda leader's Abbottabad compound.

Afridi was detained shortly after the covert US military raid that killed bin Laden in Abbottabad on May 2.

"In view of the record and evidence placed before the commission in relation to Dr Shakeel Afridi, the commission is of the view that prima facie, a case of conspiracy against the State of Pakistan and high treason is made out against him," said a statement issued by the panel.

"Therefore, a case under relevant law should be registered against Dr Shakeel Afridi and he should be proceeded in accordance with law," the statement said. Under Pakistani laws, a person convicted of high treason can be awarded a death penalty.

Media reports have said Afridi conducted a free vaccination campaign in bin Laden's neighbourhood early this year in a bid to obtain DNA samples of residents of the compound after the CIA had zeroed in on it.

The commission further decided that bin laden's "compound/house at Abbottabad should be handed over to civil administration of Abbottabad for disposal in accordance with relevant law."

The panel conducted an "exhaustive interview" of Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha "to know his perspective leading to Abbottabad incident", the statement said.

The commission had also interviewed Pasha regarding the US raid against bin Laden yesterday.

The panel has interviewed several senior military officials in the past but this was the first time that the ISI chief appeared before it.

The questioning of senior military officials, including those from the powerful ISI, by a civilian commission is extremely rare in Pakistan.

Bin Laden's widows, two Saudis and a Yemeni and about 10 of his children have been in the custody of Pakistani security agencies since US special forces killed the Al Qaeda leader. The commission had earlier barred bin Laden's widows, children and Afridi from leaving Pakistan.

The government has directed the commission to probe how bin Laden's presence in Pakistan went undetected for almost five years, the circumstances of the US raid and any security lapses that may have occurred on May 2, and to make recommendations based on its findings.


First Published: Friday, October 07, 2011, 00:22

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