A Pakistani anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six others charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks on Saturday put off a decision on the government's request to form a commission to interview key witnesses in India.
Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan of the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court asked the prosecution to inform him whether the Indian government has granted permission for the commission to visit that country to interview 24 witnesses, including lone surviving Mumbai attacker Ajmal Kasab.
The prosecution told the judge that the government has received India's "verbal" assent for the commission's visit but Awan said this was not adequate. Awan said the prosecution should inform him at the next hearing on October 16 on whether Indian authorities have granted permission in writing for the commission to visit India.
The prosecution's application for obtaining voice samples of the seven suspects will no longer be part of the proceedings though there was confusion on whether the judge had rejected it or it was withdrawn by the prosecution. The trial is being conducted in-camera and the media is barred from reporting on the proceedings.
The court accepted an application filed by defence lawyers seeking key documents related to several Indian witnesses named in the fourth chargesheet filed recently by the prosecution. These witnesses include doctors who performed autopsies on victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks and defence lawyers sought copies of post-mortem and medico-legal reports.
The judge also took up the defence lawyers' earlier request for the trial to be opened up to the media and directed the prosecution to inform him about the government's stand on this issue at the next hearing.
At an earlier hearing, prosecution lawyers had told the court that they would have to consult the government on allowing the media to cover the proceedings as the case involved issues of a sensitive nature related to national security.
Though the hearings of the case are usually held within the heavily guarded Adiala Jail, where the suspects are being detained, Saturday's proceedings were conducted in Judge Awan's courtroom.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik recently said that the trial of the Pakistani suspects was stalled and it was imperative to form the commission to go to India to record the testimony of key witnesses like Ajmal Kasab, magistrate R V Sawant Waghule, who recorded Kasab's confessional statement, and police officer Ramesh Mahale, who led the probe into the attacks.