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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Pak judicial panel to cross examine 26/11 witnesses on Sep 24

PTI  Mumbai, September 20, 2013
First Published: 15:12 IST(20/9/2013) | Last Updated: 15:19 IST(20/9/2013)

An 8-member Pakistani judicial commission will cross examine the witnesses in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack case on September 24 to carry forward the lingering trial in the case in that country.

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The evidence will be recorded by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate P Y Ladekar, official sources told PTI on Friday.

The Indian witnesses who would depose before the panel include a city magistrate, who had recorded Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Ajmal Kasab's confession, chief investigating officer in the case, Ramesh Mahale and two doctors who conducted the autopsy of the nine Pakistani terrorists felled by security forces during the audacious attacks on November 26, 2008.

The commission is arriving here for a second time as its report submitted after the first visit in March 2012 was rejected by an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan, as the panel members had not been allowed to cross-examine the witnesses.

The commission includes two officers from anti-terror court of Pakistan, as many defence witnesses and a new special public prosecutor, the sources said.

The members of the commission were given 7-day visas on Wednesday and would arrive in India through the Wagah border tomorrow.

Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam will represent the Government of India during the proceedings, the sources said.

Asked what would be the panel's assignment in India, Nikam told PTI they would cross examine the witnesses which had been refused earlier.

The anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of seven Pakistani suspects including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, who have been charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks had declared as illegal the findings of the commission, on the ground that it was not allowed to cross examine the witnesses.

Following the development, a delegation of Indian Home Ministry that also included Nikam had visited Pakistan, to sort out the matter with the authorities there.

Eventually, India had agreed to allow the panel to cross examine the witnesses to speed up the much-delayed trial in the case in Pakistan.

The trial in India has already concluded and the lone surviving 26/11 terrorist Ajmal Kasab hanged.

The panel's visit, which was earlier stalled on account of the killing of a public prosecutor, has been delayed thrice this month.

While India had given a date for early September, the team could not leave due to cancellation of PIA flight. The next date fixed was September 7, which was again cancelled due to non-availability of flight. The team was then scheduled to arrive on September 11, but the visit was postponed again due to the 10-day Ganpati festival.


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