A Pakistani court on November 22 ordered the release from house arrest of an Islamist leader accused by the United States and India of masterminding attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai in 2008 in which 166 people were killed, a prosecutor said.
Hafiz Saeed was put under house arrest in January after years of living freely in Pakistan, one of the sore points in its fraying relationship with the United States. His freedom had also infuriated Pakistanâ€™s arch-foe, India.
The government of Pakistanâ€™s Punjab province had asked for a 60-day extension to Saeedâ€™s detention but the request was turned down by the court, prosecutor Sattar Sahil told Reuters.
â€œHis previous detention for 30 days is over, which means he would be released tomorrow,â€ said Sahil.
Saeed has repeatedly denied involvement in the Mumbai attacks when 10 gunmen attacked targets in Indiaâ€™s largest city, including two luxury hotels, a Jewish centre and a train station in a rampage that lasted several days.
The violence brought nuclear-armed neighbours Pakistan and India to the brink of war.
The United States had offered a $10 million bounty for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Saeed, who heads the Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD).
Members say the Jamaat-ud-Dawa is a charity but the United States says it is a front for the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) militant group.
â€œThe review board of the Lahore High Court asked the Punjab government to produce evidence against Hafiz Saeed for keeping him detained but the government failed,â€ Saeedâ€™s lawyer A. K. Dogar told Reuters.
â€œThe court today said that there is nothing against Saeed, therefore he should be released,â€ he added.
A spokesman for Indiaâ€™s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
India accused Pakistan of sponsoring the attacks through the LeT, which Saeed founded in the 1990s.
Pakistan has denied any state involvement in the attack. It placed the LeT on a list of banned organizations in 2002.