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Controversial Lal Masjid cleric acquitted in four cases

November 01, 2011 13:28 IST

Lal Masjid's chief cleric Abdul Aziz has been acquitted by a Pakistani court in four of the 12 cases registered against him for various crimes, including challenging the government writ by keeping illegal arms.

Judicial Magistrate Kashif Qayyum Sheikh on Monday acquitted Aziz in the four cases that were registered against him at Aabpara police station in Islamabad.

The charges in these case included delivering provocative speeches against former President Pervez Musharraf's government, participating in issuing fatwas against the Pakistani military's operations in the tribal areas, possession of illegal arms and kidnapping policemen.

Aziz's lawyer Wajeehullah Khan claimed that his client was not guilty and Musharraf had implicated him in false cases, for which the prosecution presented only nine witnesses.

Khan claimed the prosecution had failed to present enough witnesses and evidence against Aziz.

Even recordings of Aziz's speeches were not presented in court by the prosecution, Khan contended.

In a case registered in 2005, Aziz was accused of delivering provocative speeches against the government during a protest led by the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal.

This speech incited protestors to attack policemen.

Two other cases were filed against Aziz in 2004 and 2005 after police conducted raids on the Lal Masjid to arrest the cleric and his brother Abdul Rashid Ghazi.

Though the brothers fled, police seized arms and ammunition from their living quarters.

In one case, the brothers were charged with resisting arrest when police raided the mosque.

In yet another case registered in 2007, Aziz was accused of threatening the government with suicide attacks if the government tried to tear down the Lal Masjid or Jamia Hafsa, a women's madrassa affiliated to the radical mosque.

Nearly 100 people, including 11 security personnel, were killed when the army stormed the Lal Masjid to flush out extremists hiding there in 2007.

Rezaul H Laskar In Islamabad
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