ISLAMABAD: A Pakistani anti-terror court Saturday adjourned for a week the trial of LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six other suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks as the judge was away to attend an official meeting.
Anti-Terrorism Court Judge Mr Malik Muhammad Akram Awan, who is conducting the trial within Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail for security reasons, had gone to Lahore to attend a meeting convened by High Court Chief Justice Mr Khwaja Muhammad Sharif, officials said. Court officials said the case had been adjourned till July 31 due to the judge’s absence. In addition to the proceedings in the case, the court was scheduled to take up Lakhvi’s bail application on Saturday.
Sources also told PTI that Judge Mr Awan was likely to go on leave for three weeks in the near future and this could further delay proceedings in the trial.
Mr Shahbaz Rajput, one of the defence lawyers, told PTI: “The dilly-dallying tactics of the prosecution are making matters excruciating for our clients.” Lakhvi’s counsel Khwaja Sultan too criticised the adjournment, saying the authorities were resorting to delaying tactics.
Referring to the prosecution’s efforts to gain access to Ajmal Kasab, a Pakistani national sentenced to death by an Indian court for his role in the 2008 Mumbai carnage, and Fahim Ansari, an Indian acquitted by the same court, Sultan said this would not be possible unless the Pakistan government makes a formal extradition request to India or approaches the Interpol. “The anti-terrorism court judge has no standing in this matter,” he said.
Lakhvi, who has denied his involvement in the Mumbai incident, recently applied for bail on the ground that the prosecution has been unable to produce any solid evidence linking him to the attacks that killed 166 people in November 2008.
The seven suspects have been charged with training and facilitating the 10 terrorists who carried out the assault on India’s financial hub.
They have been booked under the Anti-Terrorism Act, Pakistan Penal Code and a cyber crimes law.