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26/11 trial: LeT commander Lakhvi's plea rejected

By M Zulqernain
January 22, 2010 12:19 IST
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A court in Lahore on Friday dismissed Lashkar-e-Tayiba operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi's application seeking the transfer of his trial for planning and facilitating the Mumbai terror attacks from Rawalpindi to this eastern Pakistani city.

While disposing of the application, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif directed the federal and Punjab governments to ensure that foolproof security is provided to Lakhvi and his counsel Khwaja Sultan.

Chief Justice Sharif also said there was no justification for the request for Lakhvi's trial to be shifted from Rawalpindi to Lahore.

Sharif had on Thursday reserved his judgment after hearing arguments by Lakhvi's counsel and government lawyers.

In his application, Lakhvi had claimed that there was a purported threat to his life as agents of the Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing were present in Rawalpindi. He asked for his trial to be transferred from an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi to Lahore.

The deputy attorney general of the federal government and the advocate general of Punjab province had told the high court that authorities are providing complete security to Lakhvi and his counsel.

Lakhvi's counsel Khwaja Sultan has also said his client is not satisfied with the judge of the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi who is conducting the trial.

The LeT commander was indicted with six others Zarar Shah, Abu al-Qama, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum for planning and helping execute the assault on Indias financial hub in November 2008 that killed nearly 180 people.

Their trial is being conducted within Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail for security reasons. The anti-terrorism court was to begin recording evidence against them at the last hearing on January 16, but was unable to do so because of the application filed by Lakhvi in the Lahore High Court.

Lakhvi has filed another application in the Rawalpindi-based bench of the Lahore High Court challenging the anti-terrorism court's dismissal of his plea for acquittal. Observers believe Lakhvi's applications are aimed at delaying his trial, which has entered a crucial phase.

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M Zulqernain in Lahore