Pakistan has charged Osama bin Laden’s three widows with illegal entry, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Thursday, without saying when it had done so or when a trial would begin.
The al-Qaeda chief’s wives − two Saudis and a Yemeni − and around 10 of their children were taken into custody after U.S. Navy SEALs killed him at his house in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011.
“The case has been registered only against the adults,” Malik told reporters in the capital Islamabad, according to AFP news agency.
“They can have a lawyer and they have full liberty to go to court and defend themselves,” he added.
Malik said bin Laden’s children were being kept in a five-bedroom house “with proper facilities as if they were in their own home” but that they were free to return to their native countries if their mothers agreed.
A commission probing how bin Laden lived undetected for years in Pakistan investigated his widows and daughters and took statements from them last year.
In January, Zakaria al-Sada, brother of bin Laden’s widow Amal al-Sada, voiced his frustration over the women being held in custody for what he deemed to be a prolonged period.
“The Pakistani authorities are still holding the three women even though they have finished interrogating them,” Sada told Al Arabiya.
Sada added that the three widows and their children and grandchildren were kept in a house in the Pakistani capital Islamabad under deplorable conditions.
“The house admits no sunlight at all, the detainees are in a very bad psychological condition, and my sister has not recovered from her leg injury,” Sada had said.
Amal al-Sada, 29, was reportedly shot in the leg as she rushed Navy SEALs after they stormed Bin Laden's Pakistani compound.
He also said that since his arrival in Pakistan, he had been trying to lobby for the release of his sister and her five children.
“According to the information I got from the embassy of Yemen in Islamabad, the Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik did not approve the release of bin Laden family and did not give any reasons,” he added.
“I want the issue to be given more attention especially that there are no legal grounds at all for detaining them.”
Sada had refrained from appearing on camera citing concerns over harming the case of his sister and her children and his attempts to set them free.