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Pakistan Red Mosque cleric granted bail: lawyer

world Updated: Apr 15, 2009 14:41 IST

Pakistan's supreme court on Wednesday granted bail to the deposed chief cleric of Islamabad's radical Red Mosque, who was captured two years ago during a bloody siege, his lawyer said.

"A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court granted bail to Maulana Abdul Aziz. He will be released on a surety bond worth 200,000 rupees (2,482 US dollars)," lawyer Shaukat Siddiqui told reporters.

Aziz is being detained in a house in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, having been earlier moved out of prison.

He was accused of abetting the seizure of a children's library near the Red Mosque.

The lawyer said that it was the last case pending against him and that the court observed that "bail cannot be withheld on mere charges of abetment".

"It observed that there is no such material which should deprive him bail," he added.

His bail pleas on a number of other cases had already been accepted and Aziz would be released after the bail bond was furnished, Siddiqui said.

The cleric was arrested after government forces besieged and stormed the mosque in July 2007, killing more than 100 people because Al-Qaeda militants were allegedly holed up inside the building and an adjacent girls' school.

He was captured trying to flee the building dressed in a woman's burka.

The mosque was reopened on the supreme court's order three months after the bloody raid in which Aziz's brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi was also killed.

The mosque operation unleashed a wave of revenge suicide attacks across Pakistan that have left more than 1,700 people dead. Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network also called on Pakistani Muslims last year to avenge the military raid.

Militants said to be loyal to the Red Mosque have been blamed for some of those attacks, especially a number of blasts in Islamabad, although most have been attributed to Pakistani Taliban rebels.