Pak court declares Kasab, 13 others 'absconders'

Prosecution asked to reply to reservations of accused


File photo- Hotel Taj under terror attack

During Saturday’s proceedings, Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan declared 14 other suspects linked to the attacks – including Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive by Indian authorities during the strikes — as ‘absconders,’ sources said.
Details of the other 13 were not immediately available.

Khwaja Sultan, the lawyer representing LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi — one of the seven suspects arrested by Pakistani authorities, told PTI that Judge Awan adjourned the case till next Saturday.

Saturday’s proceedings were dominated by reservations expressed by the accused over the manner in which they were indicted during a hearing held on October 10.
Judge Baqir Ali Rana, who was earlier conducting the trial, had formally charged the accused in the absence of their lawyers.

The accused, who have declined to plead guilty or not guilty, on Saturday again protested about the manner in which they were charged, sources said.
The accused also filed two fresh applications regarding their reservations about the conduct of the trial. Judge Awan asked the prosecution to respond to these applications by the next hearing, Sultan said.

Sultan declined to divulge the contents of the applications and only said they contained certain reservations expressed by the accused.
A Rawalpindi-based bench of the Lahore High Court had on October 26 directed the anti-terror court to take into account the views of the accused and to redress their grievances before proceeding with their indictment.
The High Court issued the order after the accused filed a petition in which they said the anti-terror court had framed charges against them in the absence of their lawyers.

Verify the matter
Sultan said the anti-terror court had not yet received a copy of the High Court’s order while the prosecution argued that the High Court had not issued any direction asking the anti-terror court to take into account the views of the accused.
“We argued that the anti-terror court could easily verify this matter,” Sultan said.
The Mumbai attacks case has been mired in controversy and confusion over the past few weeks. The anti-terror court’s gag order on lawyers and others connected with the case and a ban on media coverage has made it virtually impossible to ascertain even basic facts.

Singh’s talks offer positive, says Pak
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Saturday said Pakistan sees India’s offer of talks “positively,” saying solutions to problems between the two countries cannot be found through wars, reports PTI from Islamabad. Welcoming his counterpart Manmohan Singh’s offer of talks with Pakistan, Gilani said: “Wars are not the solution, dialogue is the only solution.”

Singh’s remarks were an outcome of the meeting between the two premiers at Sharm el-Sheikh in July.

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