Bin Laden widows charged with illegal stay in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD Thu Mar 8, 2012 1:56pm EST

Policemen stand guard near the partially demolished compound where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces last May, in Abbottabad February 26, 2012. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Policemen stand guard near the partially demolished compound where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. special forces last May, in Abbottabad February 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

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ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistani authorities have brought charges against Osama bin Laden's three widows for illegally entering and living in the country, the interior minister said on Thursday.

The al Qaeda leader was killed in a secret raid by U.S. Special Forces in the garrison town of Abbottabad in May last year after a decade-long manhunt.

His three wives and an undisclosed number of children were among the 16 people detained by Pakistani authorities after the raid.

"They (the wives) were presented before the court. After that, they are on judicial remand, and are being kept in a proper, legal manner," Minister Rehman Malik told reporters.

"Cases have been registered against the adults, not the children."

Two of the wives are Saudi nationals, and one is from Yemen, according to the Pakistani foreign ministry.

Malik did not specify which court was dealing with the case, or where the women were being held. They will have to stand trial, but it was not clear what punishment they faced if convicted.

Pakistan had previously said that it would repatriate the women to their home countries after a government commission probing the bin Laden raid had completed its questioning.

The commission has interviewed the family members for clues about how the al Qaeda chief managed to stay in the country undetected.

The youngest widow, Amal Ahmed Abdulfattah, told Pakistani investigators in May that bin Laden and his family lived for five years in the compound in Abbottabad where he was killed.

The raid plunged the relationship between uneasy allies Pakistan and the United States to their lowest point since Islamabad joined Washington in the global war against militancy.

While the operation was hailed as a success in the United States, Pakistan reacted angrily, terming the raid a gross violation of its sovereignty.

(Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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