700 Pakistanis jailed without trial

Jan. 24, 2013 at 11:33 AM

ISLAMABAD, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Some 700 suspected militants are being held in jail without trials in connection with the war on terror, a panel of Pakistani Supreme Court judges was told.

The revelation by Attorney General Irfan Qadir was made to three judges investigating the disappearance of 11 people acquitted of terrorism-related charges, Dawn News reported Thursday.

"The detained men can be handed over to authorities only after the operation is halted in the tribal regions," Qadir said.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry told Qadir "these people cannot be kept in illegal custody for an indefinite period because it is against the constitution and basic fundamental rights." Chaudhry added, "We don't say you should release them... we want you to try them in accordance with the law,"

Qadir said because the men were arrested in areas of ongoing conflict, they would be tried under a set of regulations that denies the detainees the right to legal representation, to present evidence and to appeal.

The 11 men at the focus of the hearing disappeared from the gates of a jail in Rawalpindi in May 2010 after they had been acquitted of terrorism charges.

Four have since died under mysterious circumstances. The Supreme Court has ordered the country's intelligence services to produce the remaining men in court on Feb. 13.

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