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26/11: Pak`s trial adjourned for fortnight

No new judge had been appointed for the anti-terrorism court hearing the case.



Islamabad: The trial of LeT`s Zakiur Rehman
Lakhvi and six other Pakistanis charged with involvement in
Mumbai attacks was on Saturday adjourned for a fortnight as no new
judge had been appointed for the anti-terrorism court hearing
the case following the transfer of Justice Rana Nisar Ahmed.

Ahmed, who had been hearing the case since he was
appointed judge of Rawalpindi`s anti-terrorist court no. III
in November 2010, was transferred shortly after the last
hearing on June 11.

No new judge has been appointed for the court, sources said.
The case was placed before a duty judge today, who
adjourned it till July 9, the sources said.

The development came just a day after Foreign Secretary
Nirupama Rao, who was here for talks with her counterpart
Salman Bashir, said she had highlighted India`s concerns about
a "satisfactory closure" of the Mumbai attacks trial in
Pakistan to enable the two countries "to move on with the
process of normalisation."
Rao made the remarks while addressing a joint news
conference with Bashir at the conclusion of their two-day
talks yesterday.

She said the issue of the Mumbai attacks was of "critical
importance" to India and she had talked "about matters
relating to the 26/11 trial and the pending issues relating to
it" during her discussions with Bashir.

The case had been placed before a duty judge at the last
hearing scheduled for June 18.

On that occasion too, the case was adjourned without any
proceedings. Ahmed`s transfer marked the fourth change of the judge
conducting the trial of the Pakistani suspects.

Ahmed was also conducting the trial of five suspects
charged with involvement in the 2007 assassination of former
Premier Benazir Bhutto.

He was transferred hours after he issued a permanent
arrest warrant for former President Pervez Musharraf for
failing to cooperate with investigators probing Bhutto`s
assassination.

Ahmed had constantly pushed prosecutors to ensure
Musharraf`s appearance in court.

Experts said Ahmed`s sudden transfer could affect
proceedings in the Mumbai case as any new judge will need time
to acquaint himself with the details of the complex trial.

The trial has been marred by delays and technical hitches
since proceedings began in 2009.

At least one of the three judges who previously heard the
case was changed after he received threats from militant
groups, sources said.

The seven suspects, including Lakhvi, have been charged
with planning, financing and facilitating the November 2008
attacks in India`s financial hub that killed 166 people.

PTI

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