Lawyers of 26/11 suspects demand Kasab be brought to Pak

Last Updated: Monday, November 23, 2009 - 23:35

Islamabad: Lawyers defending seven
suspects arrested for alleged involvement in the Mumbai
attacks on Monday demanded that Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone
attacker nabbed in India, should be brought to Pakistan to
face trial with the other accused.

The lawyers made the demand when proceedings resumed
in the trial of the seven accused, including Lashker-e-Toiba
operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, at the high-
security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi.

They said that since Kasab was the lone surviving
attacker and his confession to Indian authorities formed a
crucial part of the case built up by Pakistani authorities
against their clients, he should be brought to Pakistan to
face trial.

Anti-terrorism court Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan,
who is conducting the trial in the prison for security
reasons, adjourned the matter till November 25 after hearing
the arguments of the defence and the prosecution.

He is expected to give his response to the demand of
the defence lawyers at the next hearing.

Khwaja Sultan, the lawyer representing Lakhvi, said
the defence counsel had raised objections to the evidence
presented against the accused and thoroughly debated Kasab`s
confessional statement, which formed a crucial part of the
case built up by the prosecution.

"What value does Kasab`s statement have since he
himself had retracted it? The Indian magistrate and police
officers who were involved in recording the statement are not
in Pakistan so that they can be cross-examined. So how can the
statement be used in Pakistan?" Sultan told a news agency.

"All the information in the prosecution`s case is
derived from that statement and the other attackers involved
in the Mumbai incident are dead. So we said the Pakistan
government should ask the Indian government to hand over Kasab
so that he can be tried as a co-accused," he said.

The defence lawyers also claimed the evidence against
their clients was fabricated and questioned the probe
conducted by the Federal Investigation Agency into Pakistani
links to the Mumbai attacks.

"We have set the ball rolling. Let us see what
happens," Sultan said.

The anti-terror court is yet to formally indict the
seven accused.

Judge Baqir Ali Rana, who was earlier conducting the
trial, sought to indict the accused at a recent hearing but
they refused to plead guilty or not guilty as their lawyers
were not present at the time.

Sources said Judge Awan convened the proceedings at 8
am today, saying he had to leave early as he had to attend a
funeral.

However, Lakhvi and some other accused raised
objections, saying their lawyers were not present. The judge
then put off the proceedings till the afternoon.

There had been indications for some time that the
defence lawyers planned to focus on Kasab’s role in the Mumbai
attacks and make a request for him to be brought to Pakistan.

Diplomatic sources have said they believe such a move
could delay the trial, which is already mired in confusion and
controversy.

The seven suspects – Lakhvi, Zarar Shah, Abu al-Qama,
Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas
Anjum – have been booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

They have been accused of training and providing
financial support, accommodation, equipment and communications
gear to the 10 terrorists who attacked Mumbai almost a year
ago.

Bureau Report



First Published: Monday, November 23, 2009 - 23:35

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