Pakistan panel says bin Laden family won't be repatriated

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 06, 2011 3:33 AM
Pakistan panel says bin Laden family won't be repatriated

By Zeeshan Haider

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The wives and children of Osama bin Laden detained in Pakistan will only be repatriated once a government-appointed commission investigating the al Qaeda leader's killing allows them to leave, the panel said.

Sixteen people, including bin Laden's three wives and several children, were detained by Pakistani security forces after U.S. special forces killed bin Laden in the northwestern garrison town of Abbottabad on May 2.

Pakistani officials had said bin Laden's wives, one from Yemen and two from Saudi Arabia, would be repatriated. Some media reports recently suggested that the government had agreed to let bin Laden's youngest wife, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, return to her native Yemen.

"Ministry of Interior and ISI have been directed to ensure that the family of Osama bin Laden is not repatriated from Pakistan without the consent of the commission," the commission said in a statement issued late Tuesday after its first meeting.

The ISI is Pakistan's powerful spy agency and Pakistan has a history of probes that never yield results, sometimes due to the interference of the powerful security establishment.

The commission is due to meet again next week.

The government set up the commission, headed by a senior judge, last month amid mounting public fury over the U.S. raid that killed bin Laden which many Pakistanis see as a breach of their sovereignty.

Pakistan's powerful army and the ISI have also faced unprecedented criticism and pressure to explain how the al Qaeda leader was able to live deep inside Pakistan, apparently undetected, for years.

The commission was established after lawmakers, especially in the opposition, demanded a civilian, not military, probe into the killing of bin Laden, which deeply embarrassed Pakistan and severely strained ties with its main ally, the United States.

In the statement issued after Tuesday's meeting, which was closed to the public, the commission urged the public to provide information about the Abbottabad raid, adding that its proceedings would be "independent, transparent, thorough, impartial."

(Reporting by Zeeshan Haider, editing by Miral Fahmy)