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Al-Qaeda linked former Pak army officer may walk free

A former Pakistan Army officer, arrested on charges of links to al-Qaeda besides kidnapping of Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla's uncle, may soon be released as most witnesses and complainants against him have retracted their statements.

world Updated: Feb 27, 2012 20:16 IST

A former Pakistan Army officer, arrested on charges of links to al-Qaeda besides kidnapping of Bollywood actress Juhi Chawla's uncle, may soon be released as most witnesses and complainants against him have retracted their statements.

Major (retired) Haroon Rasheed alias Abu Khattab was arrested in 2009 on charges of involvement in the kidnapping of prominent film distributor Satish Anand, the uncle of Chawla.

Reports have said he had joined the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba after leaving the army and served as an advisor to commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Rasheed is likely to be released by authorities in Punjab province despite being accused in serious crimes like murder and kidnapping for ransom as most witnesses and complainants against him have withdrawn their testimonies, The Express Tribune reported today.

The home department of Sindh province, fearing Rasheed's release, has sent a letter to the Home Department of Punjab, requesting that he be transferred to Sindh, the report said.

Rasheed is currently being held in Kot Lakhpat Jail of Lahore.

Rasheed has also been charged with killing an administrator of Sheikh Zayed Hospital of Lahore.

He reportedly quit the army in 2002 due to what he described as the "pro-American policies" of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and allegedly joined al-Qaeda.

The former army officer and two other men are being tried by an additional and sessions judge inside Kot Lakhpart Jail because of the sensitivity of the case, sources in the police and prosecution department told The Express Tribune.