Pakistani authorities will not file a fresh petition seeking the voice sample of LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi in the anti-terrorism court hearing the Mumbai attacks case, a top prosecutor said on Sunday.
The remarks by prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar came just two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif agreed during a meeting in Russia to discuss ways to speed up the Mumbai attacks trial in Pakistan, including providing voice samples of the accused.
“The issue of obtaining the voice sample of Lakhvi has been over. We had filed an application in the (anti-terrorism) court in 2011 seeking the voice sample of Lakhvi but the judge (Malik Akram Awan) had dismissed it on the ground that...no such law exists that allows obtaining of voice sample of an accused," Chaudhry told PTI in Lahore.
“The government will not file a fresh petition in the trial court requesting for obtaining voice sample of Lakhvi," he said.
26/11 probe: Lakhvi won't give voice sample, says his Pak lawyer
Earlier, Lakhvi’s lawyer Rizwan Abbasi told Hindustan Times that his client will refuse to provide a voice sample. “My client has refused in the past and will refuse again,” he said.
Under Pakistani law, a suspect’s consent has to be obtained before recording a voice sample. Lakhvi and the six other suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks have repeatedly used this provision to stymie the opposition.
Indian officials say Lakhvi’s voice sample is required so that it can be compared to recordings of the voices of the people who were present in a control room in Karachi, from where the attackers in Mumbai were guided.
The voice sample is crucial for nailing Lakhvi, who was freed on bail in April after the anti-terrorism court said there was insufficient evidence against him.
Ajmal Kasab, the lone attacker who was captured alive, and Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley have both said Lakhvi was present in the Karachi control room.
Prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar’s comments show Pakistan may not go the extra mile in bringing the accused in the Mumbai attacks to justice despite Prime Minister Sharif's commitment to his Indian counterpart in Russia.
“We have told India in writing that there was no law in Pakistan that allows obtaining a voice sample of an accused. Even there is no such law in India and the USA,” Chaudhry claimed. He said such a law can only be introduced only through Pakistan’s parliament.
Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, a close aide of Sharif, was non-committal about the government taking this matter to parliament.
“Pakistan has included the Mumbai issue in the joint statement because we wanted India to provide us solid evidence against the accused for their prosecution," Rashid said.
“Pakistan is prosecuting those allegedly involved in the Mumbai attacks case. But we need evidence. After the joint statement of the Pakistani and Indian prime ministers, the onus of providing evidence is on India," he said in response to a question on whether the government will bring a legislation regarding the recording of voice samples.
Rashid claimed India had not yet provided Pakistan "solid evidence" regarding the accused in the Mumbai attacks case.
Lakhvi's counsel Rizwan Abbasi said the government was stymied over the issue of voice samples four years ago.
"Unless it goes for legislation in the parliament in this regard, the voice sample of my client has become a (matter of) history," he said.
Lakhvi was released on bail on April 10. He and the six other accused – Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jameel Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younis Anjum – were arrested and charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks in November 2008 that killed 166 people.
India has been angered by the tardy prosecution of the seven suspects and the Pakistan government’s refusal to act against Jamaat-ud-Dawah chief Hafiz Mohammad Saeed, an alleged mastermind of the attacks.
(With inputs from PTI)