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Doctors accused of helping Al-Qaeda let off

A Pakistani court ordered the release of two doctors convicted of helping injured Al-Qaeda militants.

india Updated: Mar 10, 2006 14:31 IST

A Pakistani court on Friday ordered the release of two doctors convicted of helping injured Al-Qaeda militants, their lawyer said.

Heart specialist Akmal Waheed and his brother, orthopaedic surgeon Arshad Waheed, were sentenced to seven years in jail by a Karachi court in March 2005 for alleged ties to Osama bin Laden's network.

"The High Court of Sindh province set aside my clients' convictions as the anti-terrorism court's verdict was flawed," Ilyas Khan, counsel for the two brothers, said.

"The court has asked the authorities to release my clients," Khan said.

The two were held in July 2004 for providing medical aid to militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Jund Allah, or Army of God, which was blamed for an attack that killed 11 people.

Eleven members of Jund Allah were sentenced to death on February 21 for the attack. General Ahsan Saleem Hayat, who narrowly escaped injury in the attack, is now working as vice chief of the army staff.

Both doctors were also charged with providing medical treatment to two foreign Al-Qaeda operatives, Abu Hashim and Abu Mussab, and sending local militants for training in the lawless tribal areas near the Afghan border.

They were found guilty by the anti-terror court in Pakistan's biggest city of Karachi and sentenced to seven years.

Karachi, with a population of 14 million, is regarded as a hotbed of Islamic extremism as its crowded apartment blocks have been used as hideouts by several senior Al-Qaeda fugitives.

Members of Jund Allah were trained in camps run by Al-Qaeda in the rugged tribal district of South Waziristan near the Afghan border, where Pakistan's military is engaged in an ongoing hunt for militants.

First Published: Mar 10, 2006 14:31 IST