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JuD chief's house arrest extended by two months

world Updated: May 05, 2009 17:24 IST
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A Pakistani court on Tuesday extended by two months the house arrest of Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed along with one of his close aides and set free two other leaders of the terrorist outfit detained in the wake of the Mumbai attacks.

The judicial review board of the Lahore High Court headed by Justice Najamuz Zaman extended the detention of Saeed and Col (retd) Nazir Ahmed by 60 days. JuD leaders Amir Hamza and Mufti Abdur Rehman, detained for almost five months, were freed by the board.

Earlier, the board reserved its judgement after recording the statements of the four JuD leaders during a 30-minute in-camera session.

Emerging from the hearing, Saeed, also the founder of the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, told reporters he had asked the board not to extend their detention as it was "unconstitutional and without any legal grounds."

"Under which law has the government detained us for the last five months (as) the United Nations Security Council had only banned the JuD," Saeed said. He said if the government had any proof of his organisation's involvement in the Mumbai attacks, it should be presented in court.The three other JuD leaders told reporters they were not involved in terrorism and did not support it. They said they were "saving the country."

"Those who are working against Pakistan are free and those working for the country are in jail," Hamza claimed. The four JuD leaders were brought to court in armoured vehicles amidst tight security. Policemen armed with automatic weapons took up positions around the courtroom where the hearing was held and kept the public and media at bay.

Meanwhile, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Mohammad Sharif today constituted a larger bench to hear a habeas corpus petition filed by Saeed and the three others challenging their detention.

The Chief Justice set up the three-member bench on the request of Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry, who was earlier hearing the petition. The larger bench comprises Justices Chaudhry, Hasnat Ahmed and Subtatul Hasan.

Saeed and other JuD leaders were placed under house arrest on December 12 last year under the Maintenance of Public Order ordinance, which allows a person to be held for up to 90 days.

The judicial review board allowed a two-month extension in their house arrest on March 9. Their detention was set to end on May 9.