Osama brother-in-law allowed to meet his sister

Islamabad: A Pakistani court today allowed slain al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden`s brother-in-law to meet his sister, who has been in the custody of authorities since May last year, court officials said.

Zakarya Ahmed Abdalfattah, the brother of bin Laden`s Yemeni widow Amal Abdulfattah, the youngest of his wives, had complained in a petition filed in the Islamabad High Court that Pakistani authorities had not allowed him to meet his sister and her children. He said the authorities had earlier said they would hand over his sister and her children to him but this promise had not been honoured.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said bin Laden`s three widows and their children have been charged with illegally entering and staying in Pakistan and that they cannot leave the country till a civil court decides the case. Legal experts say that such charges carry a five-year jail term under Pakistani laws.

Abdalfattah had requested the court to allow him to meet his sister, who was injured when US special forces raided a compound in the garrison town of Abbotabad on May 2 and killed the al-Qaeda chief. Amal Abdulfattah was with bin Laden when he was killed.

Justice Anwar Kasi of the Islamabad High Court said Abdalfattah could meet his sister and her five children and that he would take action if Pakistani officials refused to allow him to see his sister.

The judge asked Abdalfattah to file an application of contempt of court on Monday if he was not allowed to meet his sister.

A separate bench of the High Court has already issued notices to the Federal Investigation Agency, which has detained bin Laden`s family in a house in Islamabad, in response to a petition filed by Abdalfattah.

Abdalfattah told reporters in the premises of the court that he was very happy at the court`s order allowing him to meet his sister.

Justice Kasi issued notices to the Defence and Interior Ministries and the intelligence agencies to submit their replies in the case within 15 days. He also allowed bin Laden`s widow to hire a lawyer of her choice to defend her in the court.

Bin Laden`s family members are being tried inside the house in Islamabad where they have been detained. The house has been declared a sub-jail and police commandos have been deployed at the residence for their protection. Abdalfattah had arrived in Pakistan to take back bin Laden`s two Yemeni widows, sources said.

A judicial commission investigating the US raid and bin Laden`s presence in Pakistan has said the family members can leave the country as they are no longer required for questioning.

The commission had interviewed bin Laden`s widows as part of the investigation. Saudi Arabian authorities have refused to accept the Saudi widow of bin Laden, Pakistani media has reported.

The US special forces had left behind all of bin Laden`s family members after the 40-minute raid on the compound in Abbottabad. Pakistani security forces recently razed the compound as it had emerged as a security concern in view of hundreds of people visiting it every day.