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Pak court adjourns hearing against 26/11 accused

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
December 19, 2009 17:32 IST
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A Pakistani anti-terror court on Saturday adjourned till December 24 proceedings against seven suspects, including Lashker-e-Tayiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks.

The accused have filed four applications challenging their indictment and seeking their acquittal.

Anti-terror court Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan, who is conducting proceedings in Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail for security reasons, on Saturday heard arguments by prosecution and defence lawyers on these applications.

Khwaja Sultan, the lawyer for Lakhvi, told PTI that both sides had completed their arguments and the court is expected to rule on the applications at the next hearing on December 24.

The defence lawyers also raised the issue of Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested for the Mumbai attacks, making a complete retraction of his confession on participating in the assault.

Kasab retracted his confession in a court in Mumbai on Friday. Sultan said Kasab's confession could no longer be used to frame charges against the accused in the Pakistani anti-terror court as he had retracted it.

The accused, in their applications, have also challenged the Pakistani court's decision to separate their trial from that of Kasab.

Defence lawyers demanded in earlier hearings that Kasab should be brought to Pakistan so that he could be cross-examined and tried under Pakistani laws.

Sultan said the defence lawyers had also objected to the indictment of the accused by Judge Awan on the basis of charges that were framed and argued while the case was being heard by another judge.

He said the accused had raised objections against Judge Baqir Ali Rana, who was earlier hearing the matter, and even filed a petition against him in the Lahore High Court.

Sultan contended that Judge Awan should review the charges against the accused instead of basing the indictment on work done by his predecessor.

The seven accused Lakhvi, Zarar Shah, Abu al-Qama, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum were formally charged with planning and helping execute the assault on India's financial hub on November 26.

They had then pleaded not guilty. The accused have sought their acquittal on the ground that there is no probability of their being convicted because there is insufficient evidence against them.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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