26/11: Lakhvi`s lawyers oppose proposal to set up panel

The prosecution had proposed to appoint a commission to visit India to record statements of key witnesses.

Islamabad: Lawyers defending LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six others charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks on Saturday opposed the prosecution`s proposal to appoint a commission to visit India to record statements of key witnesses, including Ajmal Kasab.

The defence lawyers told Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan of the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court that a "high level of risk" is involved with the proposal to send the commission to India.

The lawyers made it clear that a representative of the defence lawyers would not join the commission due to "security concerns", including the perceived threat in India to persons defending the Pakistani accused, sources said.

Judge Awan, who is conducting the trial within the heavily guarded Adiala Jail for security reasons, took up several applications filed by the prosecution during today`s hearing in the Mumbai attacks case.

One application sought the formation of a commission to visit India to record the testimony of 24 key witnesses, including lone surviving attacker Ajmal Kasab. The second application sought the court`s permission for recording voice samples of the seven accused.

The defence lawyers opposed both applications, saying they went against the provisions of Pakistani laws. They also described the application for forming a commission to go to India as "premature".

Judge Awan sought a clarification from the prosecution on whether the Indian government had given permission for the proposed commission to visit India.

He asked the prosecution to provide this information at the next hearing on October 02.

The prosecution had filed another application seeking permission from the court for key Indian witnesses to testify by video-conferencing but this was withdrawn after the judge questioned the need for it in light of the government`s move to form a commission to visit India.

While responding to another application filed by the prosecution for summoning 16 Indian doctors who conducted the post-mortem examination of 166 victims of the Mumbai attacks, the defence lawyers sought autopsy reports of the victims and medico-legal reports on 300 people who were injured.

The judge issued a notice to the prosecution in this regard and asked it to respond at the next hearing. Sources said arguments on the applications filed by the prosecution would be resumed during the next hearing on October 02.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik recently said that the trial of the Pakistani suspects was stalled and it was imperative to form the commission to go to India to record the testimony of key witnesses like Ajmal Kasab, magistrate RV Sawant Waghule, who recorded Kasab`s confessional statement, and police officer Ramesh Mahale, who led the probe into the attacks.


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