Pak`s 26/11 trial adjourned over Lakhvi`s petition

Lakhvi alleged the judge was working under the influence of Pakistan`s Interior Ministry, the prosecution and the Indian government.

Islamabad: The trial of seven Pakistanis
charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks was
adjourned for a week after one of the key accused,
Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, filed a
petition against the judge of the anti-terrorism court.

During a hearing held behind closed doors in Rawalpindi`s
Adiala Jail, due to security reasons, Lakhvi`s lawyers
submitted the petition in which he expressed dissatisfaction
with Judge Shahid Rafique.

Lakhvi alleged the judge was working under the influence
of Pakistan`s Interior Ministry, the prosecution and the
Indian government.

Lakhvi asked for the judge to be changed, claiming he
could not expect justice from him.

There were no proceedings after the petition was filed and
the judge adjourned the case till September 17, sources said.
Three prosecution witnesses were expected to testify

The proceedings have already been marred by controversies
and technical delays and the judge has been changed four

Chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulfiqar told PTI that the
defence lawyers became annoyed with Judge Rafique after he
allowed the formation of a commission to go to India to
interview key officials linked to the investigation of the
Mumbai attacks.

The defence lawyers were now resorting to "delaying
tactics", he said.

Zulfiqar said he had informed the court that this was not
the first time that the defence lawyers had expressed
dissatisfaction with the judge.

"They have expressed dissatisfaction with the four judges
who were earlier appointed to hear the case," he said.

"No one else but the defence is trying to influence the
court," he said.

Zulfiqar said he too had filed an application in the court
that requested the judge to take note of the delaying tactics
of the defence lawyers and to continue recording the testimony
of witnesses.

Lakhvi`s lawyer Khwaja Sultan told PTI that the
application against the judge should be heard by an
administrative judge.

However, since the government had appointed Rafique as the
administrative judge, the petition will be referred to the
Chief Justice of the Islamabad High Court, he claimed.

Among the witnesses who were to depose in the court today
were Riffat Masood, Pakistan`s former Deputy high Commissioner
to India who is now posted as the Consul General in Los
Angeles, Fawad Sher, the former Director (India) in the
Foreign Office, and a former senior Federal Investigation
Agency official.

Seven Pakistani suspects, including Lakhvi, have been
accused of planning, facilitating and financing the attacks in
India`s financial hub that killed 166 people in November 2008.


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