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Pakistan starts legal proceedings against bin Laden widows

From Shaan Khan, CNN
March 12, 2012 -- Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Widows' children aren't included in proceedings, interior minister says
  • NEW: Two widows and their children are being detained in a five-bedroom house
  • "They will have the whole liberty to defend themselves in the court," minister says
  • Former al Qaeda leader's widows being investigated for alleged forgery, illegal entry

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Pakistani authorities have started legal proceedings against the widows of former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden for allegedly entering Pakistan illegally and alleged forgery, Pakistan's interior minister told reporters Thursday.

The widows are in the custody of Pakistani authorities, Minister Rehman Malik said.

Last year, Pakistan told U.S. officials that three wives of bin Laden, who was killed in Pakistan by U.S. forces last year, were living in the country.

Malik said two of bin Laden's widows have been detained. The status of the third widow, who authorities reported last year was also residing in Pakistan, was not immediately clear Thursday.

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"Their entry into Pakistan was illegal," Malik said. "They also did not inform the authorities that they were living here.

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"And there were many other incidents where deception and forgery was committed," Malik told reporters.

The widows have already been presented in court and are now in custody, the minister added.

"The most important thing is that the women are kept in a proper manner, and keeping this in mind they have been kept in a proper house which has been declared a sub-jail," Malik said.

Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency initiated the proceedings against the widows three days ago.

"They can have their own lawyers, and they will have the whole liberty to defend themselves in the court," Malik said.

The children of the widows aren't included in the proceedings and are free to live in the country, he explained.

"There is no case on the children. Only the adult family members, who knew the law and who abetted Osama, have had a case registered against them," Malik said.

"A five-bedroom house has been given to them, so the children feel they are in their own home and have been given every type of facility, food and shelter, as though it were their own home," he added.

Nasir Habib in Islamabad and CNN's Michael Martinez in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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