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NIGERIAN authorities released the prominent Shi’ite leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife on Wednesday after the Kaduna State Supreme Court cleared them of murder charges.
The pair had been held since December 2015 following a police raid on their home during which Mr Zakzaky was seriously injured and three of his children were killed.
In 2016 a court ruled that they should be released but the authorities ignored the demand and filed charges against the cleric including for the murder of a soldier.
Lawyer Sadau Garba said that the couple had been acquitted and “regained their freedom today” but the Nigerian authorities said they planned to appeal the ruling.
“The court ruled that none of the witnesses we presented in court gave convincing proof that the duo were guilty," lead prosecutor Dari Bayero said.
"This doesn't mean they can't be re-arraigned ... we are certainly going to file charges against the duo at appeal."
IMN spokesman Ibrahim Musa said the court’s decision was “a victory for truth and justice against tyranny and impunity.”
Amnesty International urged Nigeria to “immediately comply” with the court ruling.
Mr Zakzaky is the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN). He was accused of holding illegal gatherings with as many as 350 IMN supporters killed and many more injured during a 2015 religious procession.
The IMN was banned by Nigeria in 2019. The couple plan to sue the Nigerian government.
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