Lashkar-e-Taiba Gets a Sigh of Relief from Court

By Arif qoreshi

Rawalpindi: The Pakistani Anti Terrorist court that’s trying suspected accused of Mumbai attack  has said that the findings of a commission that visited India in March  are illegal. The seven suspects on trial including  Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, the chief  commander of the Lashkar-e-Taiba blamed by India for Mumbai attacks in which 166 people were killed.

Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman, the judge of the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court said in an order that all the proceedings and the report of the Pakistani judicial commission that visited Mumbai in March were “illegal.”

The judge ruled that the commission’s report is illegal and could not be made part of the records for the case,” said Khwaja Haris Ahmed, the counsel for Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, one of the seven accused.

The lawyers defending the accused had opposed the report of the Pakistani commission, saying it had “no legal value” as the panel was not allowed to cross-examine witnesses during the visit to Mumbai.

The commission, which has eight members, travelled to Mumbai in March. It was not allowed by India to cross-examine key witnesses including Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive during 26/11.  The commission recorded the statements of the magistrate who documented Kasab’s confession, as also some doctors who conducted autopsies of the victims and the nine terrorists who were shot during the attacks.

Defense lawyers had told the court handling the trial at a Rawalpindi jail that without cross-examination, the commission’s exercise was futile.

The court has said that a new commission should visit India if the Indian government allows key witnesses to be cross-examined. India has said that Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist captured alive during 26/11, cannot meet or be questioned by Pakistani officials.

Chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulifqar Ali had earlier told the court that another commission could be sent to India after ensuring that it would be allowed to cross-examine witnesses.

In response to this, Judge Rehman today observed that if India and Pakistan could reach some new agreement that would allow the cross-examination of witnesses, the prosecution could move an application to send another commission to Mumbai.

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