Friday, June 25, 2010

US Terrorists Jailed in Pakistan

SARGODHA, June 24: The Anti-Terrorism Court on Thursday sentenced five Americans to 10 years in jail each after finding them guilty of waging war against the state and funding a terrorist group, lawyers said.

The five, aged 19 to 25, had been on trial in a closed court in a prison in Sargodha since March. ATC judge Mian Anwar Nazir found them guilty of two charges, but acquitted them of three others.

Each defendant was handed concurrent sentences of 10 and five years and fined Rs70,000.

Both the defence and the prosecution vowed to appeal. Rana Bakhtiar, deputy prosecutor general for the Punjab government, said he would seek 20-year sentences.

The Americans — of Egyptian, Eritrean, Pakistani and Yemeni descent — were arrested in December in Sargodha on charges of plotting a terrorist attack.

Umar Farooq, Waqar Hussain, Rami Zamzam, Ahmad Abdullah Mini and Amman Hassan Yammer had faced a maximum punishment of life in prison.

“For criminal conspiracy they were sentenced to 10 years in prison plus 50,000 rupees’ fine,” defence lawyer Hassan Katchela said.

“For funding a banned terrorist organisation they were imprisoned for five years each plus 20,000 rupees’ fine.” Defence lawyers and the prosecution said the clause included “waging war against Pakistan”.

Officials said the young men planned to travel to Afghanistan and join up with Taliban-led militants fighting US and Nato troops.

The defendants pleaded their innocence, saying they had come to Pakistan to attend a wedding and wanted to travel onto Afghanistan to do humanitarian work.

They accused the FBI and Pakistani police of torture, but the authorities denied any ill-treatment.

Khalid Farooq, the father of Farooq, spoke of his shock at the sentencing and vowed to go all the way with an appeal.

“It is a matter of great disappointment. We were not expecting it,” he told reporters outside the jail in Sargodha.

“We will go to every forum, from the high court to the international court. We will file an appeal in the Lahore High Court in seven days.”

The sentencing came three days after Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty to an attempted car bombing in Times Square, warning a New York courtroom of more attacks on the United States until it leaves Muslim lands.

Investigators said that the Sargodha five planned to travel to South Waziristan.

From here.

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