Pakistan Indicts Bin Laden's Wives With 'Illegal Entry'
Pakistan charged Osama Bin Laden’s three widows with illegal entry on Thursday.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced the charges, but did not indicate when their trial would begin.
The late al-Qaeda chief’s wives − two from Saudi Arabia and one from Yemen − and around 10 of their children were taken into custody shortly after he was killed.
US Navy SEALs carried out the targeted killing of the world's most wanted terrorist at his safe-house in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011.
“The case has been registered only against the adults,” Malik told reporters in Islamabad.
“They can have a lawyer and they have full liberty to go to court and defend themselves,” he added.
Malik said Nin Laden’s children were being kept in a five-bedroom house “with proper facilities as if they were in their own home.”
He added the children were "free to return to their native countries" if their mothers agreed.
A commission probing how Bin Laden lived undetected for years in Pakistan investigated his widows and daughters and took statements from them last year.
The revelation that bin Laden was in Pakistan − a mere stone's throw from Pakistan's military academy − was a serious source of embarrassment for Islamabad.
US officials decided not to warn Islamabad it was carrying out the assassination of Bin Laden fearing Pakistani officials may have aided and abetted him.
Mutual distrust has colored the relationship between the two countries ever since.
In January, Zakaria al-Sada, brother of bin Laden’s widow Amal al-Sada, voiced his frustration over the women being held in custody for what he deemed to be a prolonged period.
“The Pakistani authorities are still holding the three women even though they have finished interrogating them,” Sada told Al Arabiya.
Amal al-Sada, 29, was reportedly shot in the leg as she rushed Navy SEALs after they stormed Bin Laden's Pakistani compound.
The indictment of Bin Laden's wives comes as rumors swirld that the al-Qaeda leader may have been betrayed by his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.
A phone call between al-Zawahiri and Bin Laden's older Saudi wife, Khairia, was what ultimately led the Americans to call on Bin Laden in Abbottabad.
Khairia reportedly arrived in Abbottabad in March 2011, shortly after the phone call and just two months before her husbands death. She had not seen her husband since shortly before the 11 September attacks of 2011.
al-Zawahiri and other senior al-Qaeda commanders were reportedly concerned that Bin Laden's deteriorating health had turned him into a liability.
The rumors remain unconfirmed.