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 Tuesday, 24 December, 2002, 12:59 GMT
Court rules on Pakistan 'militants'
The detained men
The men were taken to an anti-terrorist court on Monday
A court in Pakistan has blocked any attempt to extradite three members of a doctor's family arrested for alleged al-Qaeda links.

The three were part of a group of nine detained last week in the city of Lahore in an operation which reports at the time said involved the American FBI.

Are we living in a civilised society in which people are being treated in the manner?

Lawyer Hamid Khan
Four have already been freed, but two others - including a doctor, Ahmad Javed Khawaja - face charges under Pakistan's anti-terrorism act.

The arrest of the doctor and members of his family has led to protests in Punjab province against the alleged involvement of US officials in the case.

The government has denied the US is involved, saying the operation was handled by its own security agencies.

Jurisdiction

Dr Aamir Aziz
Another doctor, Dr Aziz, was arrested two months ago
The Lahore High Court directed the authorities not to remove the three men from its jurisdiction - although it is not thought that any extradition warrant has been served so far.

The ruling was in response to a petition filed by the wife of Dr Khawaja, expressing fears that the three might be sent to the US.

Reports said that the three family members concerned were foreign nationals - two Americans and one Canadian citizen.

However, the family lawyer has contested this, saying that he can produce identity cards showing that they are Pakistanis.

The court has also ordered the prosecuting authorities to explain the whereabouts of the three, and to detail the charges under which they are being held.

Investigations

In recent weeks, the security agencies have been investigating the role of several non-governmental organisations involved in social and welfare activities in Afghanistan when the Taleban were ruling the country.

Officials say it is possible some of them may still have links with the Taleban or al-Qaeda.

Two months ago, another doctor was arrested in Lahore on suspicion of Taleban links and was interrogated by Pakistani and American security officials before eventually being released.


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European probe

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See also:

19 Dec 02 | South Asia
19 Nov 02 | South Asia
17 Nov 02 | South Asia
14 Sep 02 | South Asia
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