Pak court adjourns Mumbai attack suspects case till Feb 18

Pak court adjourns Mumbai attack suspects case till Feb 18

A Pakistani court conducting the trial of seven suspects charged in the Mumbai terror attacks today adjourned the case till February 18 after directing the prosecution to present a fresh notification about a judicial commission's visit to India to interview key officials.

Anti-terrorism court Judge Shahid Rafique issued the direction in response to defence lawyer Khwaja Haris Ahmed's application seeking certain corrections in the notification issued by the Interior Ministry regarding the commission’s proposed visit to India, sources said.Prosecution lawyers informed the judge that India had not yet provided a fresh date for the commission's visit.

The process for obtaining Indian visas for members of the commission too had not been completed, the prosecution lawyers said. Ahmed, the counsel for Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, told PTI that defence lawyers had argued that the Interior Ministry could not issue a notification regarding the commission’s visit to India under the Criminal Procedure Code.

"It is the prerogative of the Law Ministry to issue the notification," he said. The Pakistan government should ensure that Indian authorities seek the consent of all persons who are going to depose before the judicial commission, he said.

Following these arguments, the judge directed the prosecution to submit a fresh notification after making the necessary corrections, sources said. 

Indian authorities had earlier asked the Pakistan government to send the commission between February 1 and 10. Though the court is expected to set the date for the visit, Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced to the media that the panel would travel to India during February 3-6.

Official sources said the visit is likely to go ahead only after the Indian government gives fresh dates. The Pakistani commission is scheduled to interview the magistrate who recorded the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker, the police officer who led the investigation in Mumbai and two doctors who conducted the autopsies of the terrorists and victims.

Lakhvi and the six other suspects have been charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks that killed 166 people in November 2008. However, their trial has stalled over various technical issues for the past year. Prosecutors have said the commission’s visit to India is necessary to take forward the trial.

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