LAHORE, June 10: A three-member review board of the Lahore High Court on Friday declined a request by the Punjab government seeking extension in period of detention of 13 persons accused of having raped a schoolteacher, Nasreen Akhtar, popularly known as Mukhtaran Mai, in June 2002.

The review board, comprising Justice Mian Najamuz Zaman, Justice Sheikh Abdur Rashid and Justice Mohammad Bilal Khan, ordered release of the 13 persons on the day their three-month detention period expires.

The detainees have been directed to submit surety bonds of Rs50,000 each to the anti-terrorism court in Dera Ghazi Khan to secure their release.

The detention period of seven of them is expiring on Saturday (June 11), of five on June 26 and of the last one on June 26.

The fourteenth accused, Abdul Khaliq, a village juror, whose death penalty was converted into life imprisonment by a division bench of the Lahore High Court in Multan on March 3 this year, is serving his sentence.

The Punjab government had placed all the 13 accused, including the five who had been acquitted by the LHC bench, under detention under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance in April.

They were detained for a period of 90 days after Mukhtaran Mai wrote to the provincial home department that she felt threatened by their release.

As the detention period of the accused was to expire in a week or so, the provincial government had moved a review petition in the court seeking extension of their detention period for another 90 days.

The LHC review board, which heard the petition on Thursday, said in its judgment on Friday that there had been no sufficient ground and material available with the provincial government to establish the detainees’ potential to be a threat to public peace and warrant extension in the detention period.

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