Islamabad: Lawyers defending seven suspects, including LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, in Mumbai attacks on Saturday filed an application in an anti-terror court in Pakistan seeking their acquittal on the ground that there is no probability of their being convicted.
Anti-terror court Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan, who is conducting the trial within Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, issued notice to the prosecution to respond to the application by the next hearing on December 19.
Khwaja Sultan, the lawyer for Lakhvi, said: "We filed an application under Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure for acquittal of the accused. The court issued notice to the Special Public Prosecutor to respond to the application."
Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure allows a court to acquit an accused at any stage of the case "if, after hearing the prosecutor and the accused... it considers that there is not probability of the accused being convicted of any offence".
Legal experts said the prosecution will now have to respond to the application by convincing the anti-terror court that the seven accused can be convicted.
On November 25, the anti-terrorism court formally charged Mumbai attack mastermind Lakhvi and six other suspects - Zarar Shah, Abu al-Qama, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum - with planning and helping execute the terror strikes on India`s financial hub last year that killed 166 people.
The accused had then pleaded not guilty. The lawyers of the accused had earlier challenged the prosecution`s decision to use the statement of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested for the Mumbai attacks, on the ground that the suspects were not given an opportunity to cross-examine Kasab in the Pakistani anti-terror court.
The trial became mired in confusion and controversy after the accused claimed the court had initially tried to indict them in the absence of their lawyers.
They filed a petition in the Lahore High Court, which directed the anti-terror court to proceed with the indictment only after addressing the grievances of the accused.