Islamabad: In a reversal from their earlier
stand, lawyers defending the seven Pakistani suspects charged
in the Mumbai attacks case told an anti-terrorism court on Saturday
that they were willing to travel to India as part of a
judicial commission that will quiz witnesses and officials.
Khwaja Sultan, the counsel for Lashkar-e-Taiba commander
Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the main accused in the Mumbai attacks
case, informed anti-terrorism court judge Shahid Rafique that
defence lawyers would go to India as part of the judicial
"My junior Riaz Cheema and I are willing to be part of the
commission," Sultan told the judge during proceedings held in
Adiala Jail of Rawalpindi for security reasons.
Sultan had said yesterday that none of the defence
lawyers would go to India with the commission due to security
He had then contended that the lawyers feared for their
safety in India and that the accused would be unable to afford
the expenses for the visit.
During today`s proceedings, prosecutors presented the
government notification regarding the constitution of the
judicial commission to the court.
Judge Rafique asked the prosecution and defence lawyers to
submit their passports and other documents to the court by
December 17, the date of the next hearing, so that
arrangements could be made for their travel at the earliest.
Sultan said that he agreed to join the commission as
he was interested in questioning the Indian magistrate who had
recorded the confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, the lone
surviving attacker who had already been sentenced to death by
a court in Mumbai.
"Besides, the Pakistan government will make all
arrangements for the visit by the defence lawyers," Sultan
In a separate development, prosecutors filed another
application in the court that reiterated their request for
collecting voice samples of the seven accused.
The judge deferred arguments on the application till the
Defence lawyers had opposed earlier efforts by the
prosecution to collect voice samples, saying this is not
permitted under Pakistani laws.
According to a gazette notification issued earlier this
week by the Interior Ministry, the prosecution will be
represented in the judicial commission by Khalid Qureshi, the
head of the Federal Investigation Agency`s Special
Investigation Group, and Muhammad Azhar Chaudhry and Chaudhry
Zulifqar, the two main prosecutors.
The Pakistani commission will work with Indian law
officers to question and record the statements of witnesses
and key officials, including the magistrate who recorded
Kasab’s confession, the police officer who led the
investigation in Mumbai and doctors who conducted the
autopsies of the victims and attackers.
The prosecution has said it is important for the
commission to visit India so that the trial in Pakistan can be