26/11: Pak defence lawyers asked to appear on Feb 7

The Pakistani anti-terrorism court has issued notice to defence lawyers to hear an application seeking early hearing of the case.

Updated: Feb 04, 2012, 16:53 PM IST

Islamabad: The Pakistani anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of seven suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks has issued notice to defence lawyers to appear on February 07 to hear an application seeking early hearing of the case.

Anti-terrorism court Judge Shahid Rafique issued the notice yesterday after prosecution lawyers filed an application for early hearing of the case to decide on the issue of sending a judicial commission to India to interview key officials who participated in the probe into the Mumbai incident.

The prosecution filed the application as a hearing scheduled for today could not be held due to a national holiday in connection with the birth anniversary of Prophet Muhammad.

"We have received the notice but the court should have consulted us in this regard," defence lawyer Malik Rafiue said.

He said there appeared to be pressure on the court from Interior Minister Rehman Malik as he wanted the commission to leave for India by February 10. Earlier, Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi`s counsel, Khwaja Haris Ahmed, had asked the court though an application not to send any records of the trial, especially documents related to the accused, to India along with the commission.

Interior Minister Malik had announced last month that the commission would visit Mumbai during February 3-6.

However, a date for the trip is likely to be set only after the court takes up the application filed by Lakhvi`s lawyer, sources said. The 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 and two doctors who conducted the autopsies of the terrorists and victims.

Pakistani authorities have charged the seven suspects, including Lakhvi, for 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.