Italy frees Pakistani terror suspects

BBC 02/13/03

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An Italian judge has ordered the release of 28 Pakistani immigrants arrested on suspicion of planning terrorist attacks.

The reasons for the order are unclear, but reports suggest little evidence was found against the men.

Judge Ettore Favara said: "Preliminary checks of each individual arrested can only lead to the considerable reduction of the seriousness of the charges against them."

The Pakistanis were arrested late last month during a raid on a run-down estate in Naples.

Map claims

Police said they found a circled newspaper photograph of the head of Britain's armed forces, Chief of Defence Staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce.

Several pages of a map of the area of Bagnoli, a suburb which is home to Nato's southern command headquarters which is based in the city, were also said to have been recovered.

Sir Admiral Boyce was due to visit the base in March.

The arrests sparked a protest from the Pakistani Government to the Italian ambassador, claiming the suspects were victims of a "conspiracy."

The Italian authorities have arrested several dozen people suspected of links with international terrorism since the 11 September attacks on New York and Washington.

Most attention has focused on suspected cells linked to al-Qaeda in the north of Italy.

Last year, seven Tunisians were convicted in Milan of helping suspected al-Qaeda recruits obtain false documents.
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