Criminal case against Osama's widow, children challenged

Malik Asad in Islamabad/Dawn
Asia News Network

Islamabad (Dawn/ANN) - A brother of a widow of Osama bin Laden filed in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday a petition challenging the registration of a criminal case against his sister and children of the slain Al Qaeda chief.

Naming the state, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and interior and defence secretaries as respondents, Zakarya Ahmed Abdalfattah, younger brother of Amal Abdulfattah, also expressed reservations over the trial of his sister by Civil Judge Shahrukh Arjumand.

The IHC office raised some minor objections about maintainability of the petition, but fixed it for hearing on Wednesday by Chief Justice Iqbal Hameedur Rehman.

Filed by Mohammad Aamir Khalil, the counsel for Mr Abdalfattah, the petition said the authorities could not register a criminal case against Amal and her five minor children - Safiah, Asia, Ibraheem, Zainab and Hussain - because they were living in Pakistan like millions of Afghans who had migrated to the country during the Afghan war.

Abdalfattah challenged the registration of a criminal case under sections 13 and 14 of the Foreign Act and sections 212 and 419 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). He said sections 13 and 14 of the Foreign Act could not apply to his sister and her children because the matter of a foreign national entering and living in Pakistan related to political and foreign affairs.

Section 212 of the PPC, the petitioner argued, also did not apply in the case because she was living with her husband and, therefore, could not be charged with harbouring a criminal because she had not given refuge in her house to a third person.

Similarly, the petition said, section 419 of the PPC relating to fake identities could also not be invoked because she had not introduced herself with fake identity.