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Pak seeks voice samples of 26/11 suspects

By Rezaul H Laskar
August 07, 2010 14:50 IST
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Pakistani prosecutors on Saturday filed an application before an anti-terrorism court seeking voice samples of Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six other suspects in the Mumbai attack case, the proceedings of which were adjourned for three weeks.

The case was put off till August 28 as Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan was on leave for personal reasons. Sources said the judge of the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court had taken leave as his sister was unwell and had been hospitalised.

The prosecution filed an application seeking voice samples of Lakhvi and the other accused in view of a request made by Indian authorities, sources told PTI.

The application is expected to be taken up at the next hearing. Indian authorities have sought the voice samples of the accused so that they can be matched with recordings of Pakistan-based handlers, who were coordinating the actions of the 10 terrorists who carried out the attacks in Mumbai.

Khwaja Sultan, the counsel for Lakhvi, expressed his opposition to the prosecution's efforts to obtain the voice samples. He claimed the prosecution was following the directives of Indian authorities even though India had not provided information and materials on the Mumbai attacks that had been sought by Pakistan.

Shahbaz Rajput, one of the defence lawyers, told PTI that the court is expected to take up Lakhvi's bail application on August 9 if the judge is on duty that day.

At the last hearing on July 31, Judge Awan had reserved his judgment on Lakhvi's bail application after hearing arguments by the defence and prosecution lawyers. Judge Awan has been conducting the trial behind closed doors in the heavily-guarded Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for security reasons. Lakhvi and six other suspects have been charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act, Pakistan Penal Code and a cyber crimes law.

They have been accused of planning and facilitating the attacks on India's financial hub that killed 166 people in November 2008. The trial has been mired in controversy due to several delays.

Only two of over 160 witnesses named by the prosecution have testified so far and the judge has been changed twice. Lakhvi's counsel has filed more than seven petitions seeking his acquittal, challenging the case prepared by the prosecution and asking for the trial to be transferred to another court.

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Rezaul H Laskar In Islamabad
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