KARACHI, (Reuters) – A Pakistani anti-terrorism court sentenced an al Qaeda-linked militant to death on Wednesday for a 2006 suicide attack in Karachi that killed a U.S. diplomat, a government lawyer said.
The blast on March 2, 2006 near the gates of the U.S. consulate killed U.S. diplomat David Foy and three other people, as well as the bomber, on the eve of a visit to Pakistan by U.S. President George W. Bush.
In an August 2006 raid in Karachi, police arrested two suspects, Anwar-ul-Haq and Usman Ghani, who police said were suspected of planning the suicide car-bomb attack.
A court sentenced Haq to death but acquitted Ghani for lack of evidence, said state prosecutor Naimat Ali Randhawa. “Anwar-ul-Haq has been sentenced to three counts of life imprisonment and four counts of the death penalty besides being fined 1.5 million rupees ($24,000),” Randhawa said. “Usman Ghani got the benefit of the doubt and has been freed,” he said.
At the time of their arrest, police said the two were trained militants with links to al Qaeda and had fought against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
Police said the blast, which wounded 49 people, was aimed at disrupting Bush’s visit to Pakistan but he went ahead with his trip to the capital, Islamabad, as scheduled.
Pakistan, an important ally in the U.S.-led campaign against terrorism, has arrested hundreds of al Qaeda members and allied militants since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
Pakistan does carry out death sentences, by hanging, but sentences are often overturned by higher courts after appeals. More than 7,000 people are on death row in Pakistan, a prominent human rights group said.