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Mumbai attacks 'mastermind' bailed

Published 10/04/2015

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is the main suspect over the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 (AP)
Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi is the main suspect over the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 (AP)

The suspected Pakistani mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks has left a jail near Islamabad following a court order that he be set free pending trial, a lawyer said.

Rizwan Abbasi said his client, Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, was out of detention and described it as a "triumph for law and justice".

A Pakistani court first ordered Lakhvi's release on March 13 but he remained in detention amid mounting pressure on Pakistan to more actively confront Islamic militants.

He was ordered released for a second time on Thursday.

Lakhvi, who was first granted bail last December, is one of seven suspects on trial in Pakistan in connection with the attacks in India that killed 166 people. He was arrested in 2009.

He still faces terrorism charges over the Mumbai attacks but the trial has not yet started.

It is unclear if Lakhvi is banned from leaving Pakistan but Mr Abbasi said he has to appear in court for his trial. His Pakistani passport was earlier deposited with the court authorities.

Lakhvi is said to be the operations chief for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the organisation blamed for the 2008 attacks. It was founded by Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, who now heads a charity known as Jamaat-ud-Dawa, or JuD, which denies any links to the militant group.

India has repeatedly urged Pakistan to more actively pursue the case, and Pakistan faced renewed pressure following the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar in December, which left more than 140 people dead, mainly schoolchildren.

India's home minister Rajnath Singh described Lakhvi's release as "unfortunate and disappointing", according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

"India wants talks with Pakistan but the present development is unfortunate and disappointing," Mr Singh told reporters in Lucknow, the capital of India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

On Thursday, when the court ordered Lakhvi's release for a second time, Indian external affairs ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said that the failure to effectively prosecute "known terrorists" is a "real security threat for India and the world".

India wants Saeed, the JuD leader, also tried for the Mumbai attacks, and the United States has offered a 10 million dollar (£6.8 million) reward for information that can bring him to justice.

Saeed had been in detention for a few months in connection with the Mumbai attacks but was never charged, and today he freely travels around Pakistan, making appearances on TV and in public.

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