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Pakistanis Urge Saudi Arabia To Release Murder Suspects

Legislators in northwestern Pakistan have demanded Saudi Arabia release three Pakistani citizens who have been kept in Saudi jails for 13 years, RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal reports.

The issue of jailed Pakistanis was raised in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's provincial assembly on April 13 after several of the relatives of those jailed in Saudi Arabia held a demonstration in Peshawar on April 11.

Relatives of the jailed Pakistanis said they were arrested on murder charges but, although not convicted, have still paid "blood money" to the victims' relatives in an effort to be released. They said that under Saudi law they are supposed to be freed after paying the relatives.

Addressing an assembly session, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain said the Pakistanis "were arrested on charges of [murder]...but the Saudi authorities have failed to prove the charges. [The investigators] extracted their fingernails and hair, and kept them in solitary confinement, but could not prove the charges [against them]."

Hussain told RFE/RL that the harsh investigation practices used by the Saudis are a gross violation of human rights and he demanded the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia ensure justice to the three Pakistanis.

Hussain said in parliament that "we request the Pakistani government discuss the issue with the Saudis. And we request that the Saudi authorities -- in the name of humanity -- release the three men on the basis of Islamic laws and human rights."