ISLAMABAD, Dec 13: An anti-terrorism court on Wednesday dropped charges against a British man suspected of being a key figure in an alleged plot to blow up trans-Atlantic airliners.

Rashid Rauf, 25, had been arrested in early August. At that time, officials had claimed that his detention had led to the uncovering of the conspiracy and that he was linked to Al Qaeda. His lawyer Hashmat Habib said that an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi had agreed to his petition that two charges relating to terrorism were “not relevant and this court cannot try him”.

“That practically means that Rashid Rauf has been acquitted of charges relating to terrorism,” Mr Habib said, adding that the case would now be sent back to a regular court. Rauf, whose whereabouts had been a mystery since his detention, appeared in court on Wednesday where he met his grandmother and maternal aunt, the lawyer said.

“The prosecution said that my client was in possession of 29 bottles of hydrogen peroxide that was meant for use in explosives and terrorist attacks on airlines,” the lawyer said. “I refuted their contention. This chemical is also used to heal wounds.”

Rauf still faces charges of impersonation, carrying a fake identity card, fake documents and using those documents, Mr Habib said. “These are minor charges and we hope to see him free,” he said.—AFP

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