Pakistani authorities have 161 witnesses and "incriminating" evidence to nail LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six other suspects in the Mumbai terror attack case, a senior government law official has said.
"We have 161 witnesses and incriminating material to prove the involvement of Lakhvi and the other accused in the 2008 Mumbai attacks," Special Public Prosecutor Malik Rab Nawaz Noon told reporters.
The interior ministry has hired the services of Noon to head the prosecution team in the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court that is conducting the trial of Lakhvi and the other suspects.
Noon also alleged that the lawyers of the accused were causing delays in the court proceedings.
Rejecting the defence counsel's objections to the validity of the confessional statement made to Indian authorities by Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone attacker arrested in Mumbai, Noon said it was received through proper government-to-government channels.
"We have got it translated by the head of the Hindi department of the National University of Modern Languages in Islamabad," he said.
Lakhvi's counsel has filed a petition in the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court challenging the anti-terrorism court's decision to reject his plea for acquittal. In his petition, Lakhvi said the proceedings against him should be quashed and he should be acquitted under Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure on the grounds that there was no evidence or witness against him.
He also contended that there was no probability that he would be convicted.
Lakhvi also argued that under Pakistani law, Kasab's confessional statement was inadmissible as evidence against him because Kasab had not been named as an accused or declared a "proclaimed offender" in three separate chargesheets submitted by the Federal Investigation Agency.
The division bench of High Court, comprising Justices Nasir Saeed and Khwaja Imtiaz Ahmed, reserved its decision after listening to the arguments by the prosecution and the defence.
However, Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Mohammad Sharif recalled the two judges to Lahore and a decision is expected to be announced by their replacements next week.