Pakistan’s anti-terrorism court has finally recorded the statements of all Pakistani witnesses in the 26/11 Mumbai attack case.
The anti-terrorism court (ATC) Islamabad which held the hearing on Wednesday at the high security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi recorded the statements of the final witness, concluding the process.
Five witnesses have not recorded their statements despite a number of court summons. The court has declared them proclaimed offenders.
“All the Pakistani witnesses of the Mumbai case have recorded their statements. Now only Indian witnesses are left to record their statements,” a prosecution lawyer told PTI.
He said the trial would be concluded once the Indian witnesses record their statements.
The prosecution lawyer said the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told the trial court that the interior ministry has written to the foreign ministry over summoning of the 24 Indian witnesses to Pakistan for recording of statements. The court adjourned the hearing till March 2.
In the last hearing, the court, which is holding the trial of the seven accused including Mumbai attack mastermind and LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, had ordered the FIA to present all 24 Indian witnesses in court to record their statements.
Besides, it had also ordered to bring back to Pakistan the boats used by Ajmal Kasab and other militants on the grounds that it is a case property and should be duly examined.
A court official had said earlier that the statements of four key Indian witnesses recorded by the Pakistani commission in 2012 were not admissible in the trial court as the Indian government had not allowed their cross-examination.
The 8-member Pakistani judicial commission had visited India on behalf of the Pakistani anti-terrorism court (ATC). The statements of the Indian witnesses were supposed to be used as evidence in the trial. However, Lakhvi’s lawyer had challenged the commission’s proceedings because chief metropolitan magistrate SS Shinde did not let its members cross-examine witnesses.
The trial court subsequently declared the proceedings of the commission illegal. Pakistani authorities have arrested seven LeT members involved with the planning of the attacks. Apart from Lakhvi, other arrested LeT men are Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Sadiq, Shahid Jamil, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum. A trial is underway against them at the ATC since 2009.
Lakhvi, 55, secured bail in December 2014 and was subsequently released from Adiala Jail on April 10, 2015, after the Lahore high court set aside the government’s order to detain him under a public security act.