tampabay.com

Punish rapists, Pakistani asks court

By wire services
Published June 28, 2005


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan - A Pakistani woman gang-raped three years ago on tribal council orders took her case from her dusty village to the capital Monday, demanding the Supreme Court reinstate the death penalty against five of her alleged attackers.

Mukhtar Mai, 36, has won international praise for having the courage to speak out about the assault, which highlights a brutal form of tribal justice still prevalent in parts of the Muslim country.

Rights activists have accused the government of trying to silence her, and she was barred by President Gen. Pervez Musharraf from visiting the United States to talk about her case. The government lifted the ban last week after Washington protested.

The June 2002 gang rape was ordered by a council of elders in the village of Meerwala, about 350 miles southwest of Islamabad, as punishment for an alleged affair by Mai's 13-year-old brother with a woman from the Mastoi clan. Mai says the allegation was fabricated to cover up a sexual assault against her brother by men from the Mastoi clan.

A three-member panel of judges adjourned the court until Tuesday after hearing initial arguments in the case.

Freed Gitmo inmates make Koran claims

LAHORE, Pakistan - Pakistanis freed from Guantanamo Bay claimed Monday that they saw American interrogators throw, tear and stand on copies of Islam's holy book.

The Pentagon denied the accusations and said al-Qaida training manuals instruct prisoners to make such false charges.

Seventeen Pakistanis were freed Monday from a jail in Lahore, Pakistan, where they had been held since their release nine months ago from the U.S. prison for terror in Cuba. A Pakistani official said each had been "declared innocent by America" and cleared of involvement in terrorism by Pakistani intelligence.

Also ...

COLOMBIAN HOSTAGE DEAL: FARC, Colombia's main leftist rebel group, offered Monday to swap three U.S. contractors for two guerrilla leaders jailed in the United States. The United States would not negotiate. Tom Howes, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell were captured Feb. 13, 2003.