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Bangladesh court clears Canadian of attack charges

Tahmid Hasib Khan, center in blue jeans, an undergraduate at the University of Toronto who has Canadian residency, comes out after a court appearance, in Dhaka, Bangladesh Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016.

AP

The family of a Toronto university student who was detained in Bangladesh expressed relief Wednesday after a court formally cleared him of all allegations related to a deadly terror attack in the country three months ago.

Tahmid Hasib Khan, a permanent resident of Canada, was taken into custody after surviving a July 1 raid on an upscale restaurant in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, in which 20 hostages were killed.

He was never charged in connection with the attack but was held as he was interrogated for weeks.

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Related: Detained University of Toronto student formally arrested in Dhaka

On Wednesday, a judge cleared Khan of any involvement in the bloody siege after investigators found no evidence connecting the 22-year-old to those who carried out the attack.

Khan's family welcomed the news.

"Anybody who knew him well never doubted his innocence. But we're glad the courts have confirmed our belief," said Khan's older brother, Talha, who lives in Toronto and is a Canadian citizen. "We're relieved."

But Tahmid Khan's ordeal isn't quite over — he now faces a separate charge of not co-operating with police. If convicted on that count, he could face a month of jail time and a cash fine, according to Bangladeshi law.

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Khan was released on bail on Sunday after that new charge surfaced, and will have to attend court in Dhaka to deal with it in the coming weeks, his family said.

"Hopefully the courts clear him of that and then he can come back to Canada and start his life," his brother said. "I won't be completely relieved until I see him here in Toronto."

The Toronto lawyer hired by the family said Khan's "lack of co-operation" charge relates to his alleged failure to attend police interviews on July 10 and July 21.

But Khan's family has said he was detained continuously after the attack until his release on bail.

For now, Khan will remain in Dhaka with his parents until his next court date, his brother said, adding that his sibling seemed "very strong" despite his prolonged time in custody.

"He sounded as normal as possible," Khan's brother said of a recent phone call with his sibling. "He's very thankful to his friends at U of T and the wider Canadian public for their concern."

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Global Affairs Canada has said it was monitoring Khan's situation and was in touch with his family, his legal counsel and Bangladeshi authorities.

Khan had arrived in Dhaka on July 1 to celebrate Eid with his family, and planned to travel to Nepal to begin an internship with UNICEF the following week.

He was with friends at the Holey Artisan Bakery when the armed gunmen attacked. Security forces stormed the restaurant on July 2, killing the gunmen and rescuing the remaining hostages.

The Dhaka attack is believed to have involved another Canadian, who police in Bangladesh accused of masterminding the attack.

Police alleged Tamim Chowdhury was the driving force behind both the restaurant attack and another attack outside Dhaka later in July.

Chowdhury, who is believed to have once lived in Windsor, Ont., was killed when officers raided a house near Dhaka in August.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the Dhaka restaurant attack but the government has blamed local militant groups.

with files from The Associated Press

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