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Pakistani court orders release of alleged Mumbai attacker

A Pakistani court has ordered the release of Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks. The government officials say they are planning to review legal options to keep him in custody.

Defense lawyer Rizwan Abbasi confirmed on Thursday that the country's Lahore High Court had released Lakhvi on bail.

"Justice Anwar-ul-Haq of the Lahore High Court today suspended detention orders of my client Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and ordered his release after submitting two surety bounds of one million rupees ($10,000; 9,360 euros) each," Lakhvi's lawyer Rizwan Abbasi told media, adding that the court ruled it was "unconstitutional to hold anybody without any proof for more than 90 days."

Lakhvi, a top leader of Pakistan's banned militant organization, Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), is one of seven suspects being tried by Pakistani authorities in connection with the Mumbai attacks in 2008. He has been in government custody since 2009.

Lakhvi is accused of planning the attacks on the Taj hotel, a Jewish hostel and a train station in Mumbai. The 2008 attacks and a three-day siege left more than 160 people dead, and seriously damaged the already strained ties between the nuclear-armed South Asian neighbors - Pakistan and India.

A file picture dated 27 November 2008 shows firefighters trying to douse the fire as smoke rises from the Taj hotel building in Mumbai, India during the terrorists attack (Photo: EPA/HARISH TYAGI)

The 2008 Mumbai attacks and a three-day siege left more than 160 people dead

Tussel over Lakhvi

Government officials confirmed Lakhvi's release orders but said they would appeal against the ruling.

"The honorable court has suspended detention orders of Lakhvi, we will see whatever legal options are available for us to review the decision," Advocate General of the eastern Punjab province, Naveed Rasool, told AFP news agency on Thursday.

In December, the 55-year-old Islamist was granted a $10,000 bail, but the government of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to detain him for another three months, following scathing criticism from New Delhi, which has repeatedly pressured Islamabad to actively pursue the case.

'State secrets'

According to Vikram Sood, who headed India's foreign intelligence service, RAW, from 2001 to March 2003, the Pakistani authorities want to keep Lakhvi in custody because they fear the LeT leader would reveal state secrets in a proper trial.

"Any disclosures by Lakhvi of the Pakistani state's involvement would naturally be embarrassing for Pakistan," Sood told DW.

"Pakistan is unable to take any firm action against the radicals in the country. Over the years it has come increasingly under the sway of al Qaeda and its various surrogates, and also under the influence of Sunni sectarian terror groups," he added.

Pakistan denies any involvement in Mumbai attacks.

shs/kms (AFP, AP)

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