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ATC hands three death sentences to kidnapper of US national

Anti Terrorism Court in Lahore on Wednesday sentenced prisoner Hafiz Imran to death for the kidnapping an elderly US development worker in Lahore four years ago, officials said.

Warren Weinstein was snatched after gunmen tricked their way into his home in Lahore on August 13, 2011 shortly before he was due to return home after seven years working in Pakistan.

He later appeared in a video in which, under apparent coercion, he asked the United States to free Al-Qaeda prisoners.

“An ATC judge in Lahore awarded death sentence to Hafiz Imran on three counts — kidnapping for ransom, terrorism and trespassing at somebody’s place with an intention to kill,” public prosecutor Rai Asif told AFP.

The court also ordered that Imran pay a five million rupees ($50,000) fine.

An official told AFP that Imran was a member of a banned terrorist group, but did not disclose the name.

“Police had arrested two people in the case and the other accused Saifur Rehman was acquitted some time ago as prosecution did not find any evidence of his involvement in the case,” Asif added.

Head of the Anti Terrorism Court prosecution wing Sheikh Saeed Ahmad also confirmed the sentencing.

Weinstein, 73, was the country director of a US-based consultancy J.E. Austin Associates, which does contracting work for the US government’s development agency USAID.

A year after he was kidnapped, Weinstein appeared in an Al-Qaeda video and urged US President Barack Obama to respond to his kidnappers’ demands to release several Islamists jailed in the United States, including the blind cleric Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman.

The White House said it would not negotiate with Al-Qaeda over the fate of Weinstein, but in August last year it made a new appeal for his release

Weinstein, who suffered from asthma, heart problems and high blood pressure, has not been seen since the video and his whereabouts are still unknown.

Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri claimed in December 2011 that the group was holding Weinstein, but provided no proof. -AFP



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