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Pakistan court sentences Bin Laden relatives

A Pakistani court convicted three widows and two daughters of Osama Bin Laden [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] for illegally entering and residing in the country. The court ordered these five women, who were arrested on March 3, to serve 45 days in prison [AP report] and face deportation after the completion of their sentence. Bin Laden's five family members have been detained since May, when the US killed the al Qaeda chief at the residence where Bin Laden's family had been living for six years. The raid was embarrassing for Pakistan's military and intelligence agency, which faced criticism for their inability to track Bin Laden [NYT report] and accusations of complicity in hiding him from authorities. The three wives, who confessed to entering the country illegally, are under house arrest in Islamabad. According to the family lawyer, these five women will be deported on April 15.

Since controversy arose over the killing of Bin Laden [JURIST report] by US forces in Pakistan last May, Pakistan's alliance with the US has been questioned. In December the Supreme Court of Pakistan [official website] formed a judicial committee to investigate a secret memo sent from an unknown Pakistani source to US Admiral Mike Mullen in May asking for help in preventing a suspected army coup. Former Pakistan ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari [BBC profile] have been accused of writing or having knowledge of the memo, and both have denied these allegations. The growing conflict between the US and Pakistan was analyzed by JURIST guest columnist Sikander Ahmed Shah in Drone Strikes in Pakistan: Examining Consent in International Law [JURIST op-ed]. Pakistan has also faced an ongoing struggle with corruption that the courts have attempted to battle.

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