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LeT chief's house arrest extended by 2 months

world Updated: Mar 09, 2009 20:11 IST
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Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed's house arrest in connection with the Mumbai attacks was extended by two months on Monday after the militant leader was produced before a Pakistani court along with five others for the first time since his detention nearly three months ago.

The judicial review board of the Lahore High Court, comprising three judges, extended the house arrest of 59-year-old Saeed, also the leader of the banned Jamaat-ud Dawah, and three of his key aides -- Haji Amir Hamza, Col (retd) Nazir Ahmed and Mufti Abdur Rehman -- by 60 days.

The judges also directed authorities to pay them Rs 25,000 as a "livelihood allowance" during the period of their detention.

However, they did not accede to the authorities's request to prolong the house arrest of two other JuD leaders, Qazi Kashif Niaz and Qari Yasin Baloch, as well and ordered that they be freed.

With the terror attack on the Sri Lankan cricket squad in the heart of the city a week back fresh in their minds, security personnel left nothing to chance. The six JuD leaders were ferried to the court in armoured vehicles.

The judges initially reserved their order after hearing the counsel for the militant leaders and government and announced their decision later in the afternoon.

The JuD chief and the other militant 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 authorities had sought an extension in their house arrest as it was set to expire on March 11.

Security personnel in plain clothes formed a ring around the courtroom in which the militant leaders were produced before the review board. Heavily armed policemen were deployed outside the court and around the entire building as well.

Police also reportedly removed some JuD activists, who had gathered outside the court.

Earlier, Saeed's lawyer Zafar Iqbal told reporters that the authorities had sought an extension of his house arrest without giving any valid reasons for his detention. He alleged that the request for extending their detention was "based on foreign media reports."

Iqbal claimed the authorities had no grounds for holding the JuD leaders.

Responding to a petition filed by Saeed's wife Maimoona, the Lahore High Court last week asked Punjab's Home Department to give the reasons for his detention within seven days.

Four other LeT operatives -- Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Zarar Shah, Abu al Qama and Hamad Amin Sadiq -- are currently in the custody of the Federal Investigation Agency following their arrest in connection with the Mumbai attacks.