Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the suspected Pakistani mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was freed from a jail near Islamabad today, following a court order that he be set free pending trial. Lakhvi was said to be the operations chief for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the organization blamed for the 2008 attacks. It's unclear if Lakhvi is banned from leaving Pakistan, but lawyer Rizwan Abbasi says he has to appear in court for his trial; he faces terrorism charges. His Pakistani passport was earlier deposited with the court authorities. Lakhvi, who was first granted bail last December, is one of seven suspects on trial in Pakistan in connection with the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.
He was arrested in 2009 and had been in detention since, until today. "This is a triumph for law and justice," Abbasi says. A Pakistani court first ordered Lakhvi's release on March 13, after Abbasi launched a legal battle claiming Lakhvi was being unlawfully held. But he remained in detention amid mounting pressure on Pakistan to more actively confront Islamic militants, especially following the Taliban attack on a Peshawar school in December, which left more than 140 people dead. Lakhvi was ordered released for a second time yesterday. India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh described the release as "unfortunate and disappointing," according to the Press Trust of India. Lakhvi could not be reached for comment.