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Pakistan jails bin Laden's family for illegal stay

By Qasim Nauman

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - A Pakistani court jailed former al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's three widows and two daughters for 45 days after finding them guilty of illegally staying in the country, their lawyers said on Monday.

In practice, that means they will serve 14 days in prison because they have been in detention since March 3. Bin Laden's family members will eventually be deported to their home countries, the lawyers said.

"They (bin Laden's relatives) were sentenced to 45 days imprisonment and fined 10,000 rupees ($110) each. The money was paid on the spot," Aamir Khalil, one of the lawyers, said.

"The Secretary of the Interior has been instructed to make arrangements for their deportation after that."

The relatives are being detained in a heavily-guarded three-storey house in a residential neighborhood of the capital Islamabad. Few have access to the family, and legal proceedings took place at the house because of security concerns.

"They are doing fine," Khalil told reporters when asked about the relatives' condition.

Analysts had said Pakistan may have preferred a lengthy prison sentence for the family to prevent them from discussing details of their time in Pakistan.

Once outside Pakistan, bin Laden's relatives could reveal details about how the world's most wanted man was able to hide in U.S. ally Pakistan for years, possibly assisted by elements of the country's powerful military and spy agency.

"The Pakistan military and intelligence are confident that the facts are already known to America, most of (them) anyway," said Talat Masood, a retired general and political analyst.

Pakistan's government and military have said they had no links to bin Laden.

Any revelations about ties to bin Laden could embarrass Islamabad and infuriate Washington, which staged a decade-long hunt for bin Laden after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Bin Laden was shot and killed in May last year by U.S. special forces who stormed his house in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, about a two-hour drive from the capital Islamabad.

Yemen-born Amal Al-Sadeh, the youngest widow, and her four children were among the 16 people detained by Pakistani authorities after the raid, which also included two other wives from Saudi Arabia.

(Additional reporting by Mahawish Rezvi; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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