Pak judge to hear fresh plea on sending 26/11 comm

The new judge of a Pakistani anti- terrorism court conducting the trial in the Mumbai attacks said Tuesday that he would hear afresh the prosecution`s plea for sending a commission to India to quiz Ajmal Kasab.

Last Updated: Nov 23, 2010, 18:16 PM IST

Islamabad: The new judge of a Pakistani anti-
terrorism court conducting the trial of LeT`s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six other suspects in the Mumbai attacks said Tuesday that he would hear afresh the prosecution`s plea for sending a
commission to India to quiz Ajmal Kasab and other key witnesses.

Judge Rana Nisar Ahmed, who took over the case from
Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan, had earlier on November 13
reserved the verdict on the government`s request to send a
commission to India to interview key witnesses, including
Kasab, the lone attacker captured alive during the 2008 Mumbai
strikes.

However, judge Ahmed today said he would hear afresh the
prosecution`s petition for sending the commission to India,
according to sources.

He said he would decide on the issue after hearing fresh
arguments from both the prosecution and defence.

Judge Ahmed adjourned the case till December 4 as the
prosecution lawyer could not appear for the hearing, the
sources said.

The reason for the lawyer`s absence could not be
immediately ascertained.

It is the third time in the Mumbai attacks trial of the
Pakistani suspects that the judge has been changed since the
proceedings began early last year. There was no official word
on why the judge had been changed.

On at least one occasion in the past, the judge was changed after he expressed his inability to continue due to threats from militant elements.
Pakistani national Kasab has been convicted and
sentenced to death by a Mumbai-based special court.

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik recently admitted
that the trial of the seven suspects had stalled and it was
imperative for a commission to visit India and record the
testimony of key witnesses, including Kasab.
However, lawyers defending the suspects have refused to
be part of the commission.

The trial of the Pakistani suspects has been mired in
controversy and delays since last year. The court has
completed recording of the testimony of only one out of over
160 witnesses so far.

PTI