Pakistan's 'most wanted' Saud Memon dies
May 19, 2007 - 12:32:37 PM

Islamabad/Karachi, May 19 - Saud Memon, who figured high on Pakistan's 'most wanted' list as Al Qaeda's key financier, has died in a Karachi hospital.

While hospital authorities said he died of tuberculosis and meningitis Friday, his family alleged he had been poisoned by the authorities.

Saud was a merchant who owned the plot in Karachi from where US journalist Daniel Pearl's body was found in 2002, weeks after being kidnapped while on assignment to track the Al Qaeda trail in Pakistan.

He was first on Pakistan's most wanted list and carried a prize money of Rs.3 million. His name first surfaced when the police recovered Pearl's remains on May 17, 2002, from his plot in Ahsanabad, Gadap town.

According to his brother Mahmood, Saud left for South Africa after Pearl's remains were unearthed. He was apprehensive of his likely arrest in the high-profile murder case and fled the country, Daily Times reported Saturday.

The US's Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested him from South Africa on March 7, 2003, kept him at Guantanamo Bay for over two years and then handed him over to Pakistani authorities.

A Pakistani intelligence agency then secured his custody for investigation. He was never officially arrested or detained and lost contact with the family.

He was one of the 190 'missing' persons - held by intelligence agencies without trial. The family heard about his alleged detention last year through a man who was released by the same agency sometime ago, the newspaper said.

Its correspondent visiting the home found 'the scared family exceedingly hostile and reluctant to allow interviews but told the media that there was no dying declaration.'

Mahmood denied his brother had any links with the Pearl murder. He acknowledged, however, that Memon used to donate funds to the Al-Akhtar and Al-Rashid trusts. The two trusts were proscribed earlier this year, but they have challenged the government's action in the court.

'My brother knew nothing about Daniel Pearl or his killers. If he had killed Pearl, he would certainly have not buried him in his own plot,' he said.

Mahmood said Saud died 20 days after being admitted to hospital.

Mahmood had appeared before the Supreme Court on May 14 in the forced disappearances' case along with his brother who was unable to speak as a result of alleged torture by an intelligence agency during an undeclared confinement that lasted an estimated three years, one month and 21 days. Memon's arrest was never brought on the record.

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