26/11: Pak SC dismisses Lakhvi`s acquittal plea

Last Updated: Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 14:46

Islamabad: Pakistan`s Supreme Court Thursday
dismissed LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi`s petition
seeking his acquittal in the Mumbai attacks case, saying it
was not the proper forum at this stage to take up the matter
which is yet to be decided by an anti-terrorism court.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar
Chaudhry said Lakhvi could approach the higher courts after
his case is decided by the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi.

It dismissed the petition of Lakhvi, the operations chief
of LeT, after his counsel withdrew the plea.

Lakhvi and six other suspects are currently being tried
by the anti-terrorism court on charges of planning and
facilitating the Mumbai attacks.

Lakhvi had contended in his petition that the charges
against him were based solely on the confession of Ajmal
Kasab, the lone Pakistani terrorist arrested alive in India
for the 2008 attacks, and that the prosecution had no other
evidence.

He had sought his acquittal in the case in the
anti-terrorism court and the termination of criminal
proceedings against him.

Malik Rab Nawaz Noon, the senior advocate who represented
the government in the Supreme Court, said: "Lakhvi`s
counsel argued that Kasab`s confessional statement had no
evidentiary value in Pakistan but the judges were not
in agreement."

The government also withdrew a petition it had filed
in the apex court to challenge Lakhvi`s plea.

After Lakhvi filed his petition, the Supreme Court
obtained a copy of Kasab`s confessional statement to study it.

In his confessional statement, Kasab had named Lakhvi
as the mastermind behind the Mumbai attacks that killed 166
people.

A special court in Mumbai recently convicted Kasab on
charges of murder and waging war against India and sentenced
him to death.

Lakhvi`s counsel Khwaja Sultan said the apex court
had acknowledged there were "sound technical arguments" in
their petition.

However, the bench had ruled that the case should be
decided by the anti-terrorism court and that the apex court
was not the proper forum to take up the matter at this stage,
he said.

The bench observed that Lakhvi could approach the higher
courts once the anti-terrorism court gives its decision,
Sultan said.

Sultan also said the curbs on media coverage of
proceedings in the anti-terrorism court should be lifted.

"The curbs on media coverage are not good. The media
should be allowed to cover the proceedings in the Rawalpindi
court," he said.

He pointed out that India had allowed the coverage of
Kasab`s trial in a special court in Mumbai.

The anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi is conducting the
trial of Lakhvi and the other suspects within Adiala Jail for
security reasons and media is barred from the proceedings.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, May 27, 2010 - 14:46

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