Xinhua : UK-wanted suspect escapes from police in Pakistan

Sunday, December 16, 2007

UK-wanted suspect escapes from police in Pakistan

December 16, 2007

ISLAMABAD, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Rashid Rauf, a British national suspected to plan attacks on some transatlantic flights, managed to escape from the police custody here Saturday, according to local press reports.

The News, an English daily, quoted Islamabad police officer Syed Kalim Imam as saying that the accused was brought to the Islamabad district court from the Adiala Jail in nearby Rawalpindiat about 13:30 local time (0830 GMT). The accused, he said, escaped from the court premises, adding that he was informed by the concerned police about Rauf's escape at 18:00 (1300 GMT).

Two police officers have been arrested on suspicion of helping the accused flee, the police officer said, adding that a department inquiry had been formed to investigate the case.

Rauf, who also has a Pakistani passport, was arrested by Pakistani intelligence agents in August 2006 on a tip from their British counterparts.

Rauf was arrested and charged in Pakistan with possessing chemicals that could be used in making explosives and with carrying forged travel documents.

The prosecution later withdrew the case against him and held him accountable only for possessing bomb-making materials and living in Pakistan without valid documents.

After that, a higher court, acting on an appeal by the Pakistani authorities, suspended the anti-terrorism court's ruling until Jan. 15, according to the press reports.

A judge then extended his detention until Jan. 19.

Rauf has remained in jail awaiting a decision on a British extradition request. He arrived in Pakistan soon after his uncle was stabbed to death in 2002, and the British authorities have asked Pakistan to extradite Rauf in connection with the murder inquiry.

His lawyer, Hashmat Habib, has sought to block the move, saying that the two countries did not have an extradition treaty and that Rauf had already been found innocent of involvement in terrorism.

Habib said Saturday that his client had been brought to court in connection with the extradition proceedings, but he did not know how Rauf had escaped.