A defense lawyer for Osama bin Laden’s family says a Pakistani court is set to charge his clients with illegally entering and residing in the country.
The lawyer, Mohammad Amir, says the charges will be made against three of bin Laden’s widows and two daughters when the hearing resumes April 2.
The court gave the five women copies of the case and evidence against them Monday. The women have been in detention since last May when U.S. commandos killed bin Laden at his home in a Pakistani garrison town.
The government has said it did not know bin Laden was in Abbottabad.
Bin Laden and his wives were living with eight of their children and three employees. It’s unclear what will happen to the people who are not charged.
Bin Laden’s youngest wife Amal Abdulfattah was with him in a compound in Abbottabad when he was killed in a U.S. Navy SEALs’ operation last year.
But Zakarya Ahmed Abdalfattah, younger brother of Amal Abdalfattah, last week challenged the Pakistani court’s decision to register a criminal case against his sister and children of the slain al-Qaeda leader.
He named both Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and interior and defense secretaries as respondents in his petition saying authorities could not register a criminal case against his sister 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, the Pakistan-based newspaper, Dawn
Abdalfattah’s lawyer, Mohammad Aamir Khalil, challenged the registration of the criminal case under sections 13 and 14 of the country’s Foreign Act and sections 212 and 419 of Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Khalil said sections 13 and 14 of the Foreign Act could not apply to Abdalfattah’s sister and her children because “because the matter of a foreign national entering and living in Pakistan [is] related to political and foreign affairs,” the newspaper said.
The charges carry a minimum punishment of three years in prison.
The lawyer also said that Section 212 did not apply since Abdalfattah’s sister was living with her husband and, therefore, could not be charged with harboring a criminal because she had not given refuge in her house to a third person. Another section, 419 of the PPC, relating to fake identities also could not be invoked because she had not introduced herself with fake identity.
During the petition, Abdalfattah expressed reservations over the trial by Civil Judge Shahrukh Arjumand who was the first in conducting hearings in the trial of Bin Laden’s widows.