The detained leader of Nigeria's Shiite Muslims has been left near-blind and underwent several operations to remove bullets from when he was shot in an army raid on his home, a human rights lawyer said Friday.

Lawyer Femi Falana spoke after he was granted access to Ibraheem Zakzaky for the first time since he and his wife, Zeenat Ibraheem, were detained in December and denied access to their doctors and family.

Falana gave The Associated Press a copy of a letter dated April 5 to the director general of Nigeria's secret service, the Department of State Security, demanding "the unconditional release" of the couple from "unlawful detention." Neither has been brought to court, which the law says must be within 48 hours of arrest.

Hundreds of other Shiites also are detained and some have died for lack of medical care, the Shiite movement has charged.

Human rights groups say the military killed hundreds of them over three days in northern Zaria town. The Shiites, a minority believed to number about 5 million, last week petitioned the International Criminal Court to investigate the alleged military killings of nearly 1,000 Shiites, calling them crimes against humanity.

The raids were ordered by chief of army staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, who claimed unarmed Shiites tried to assassinate him, Falana said.

Falana saw his clients a week ago, after refusing to cooperate with a commission of inquiry until he got access.

Iran has protested the killings and demanded compensation for victims.