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Prosecutors challenge Kasab's defence's stance

world Updated: Apr 16, 2011 21:37 IST

Prosecutors on Saturday filed an application in an anti-terrorism court, challenging the contention of lawyers defending the seven Mumbai terror attack suspects, that Ajmal Kasab and Fahim Ansari cannot be re-tried in Pakistan.

The prosecution team filed the application during Saturday's hearing in the Mumbai attacks case conducted by anti-terrorism court Judge Rana Nisar Ahmed in the heavily guarded Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, sources told PTI. The prosecution's application contended that the defence lawyers could not present an argument regarding Kasab and Ansari as they did not represent the two men, the sources said.

The defence lawyers had recently filed an application seeking the start of trial proceedings as soon as possible and recording of evidence against the accused. The application was filed under Section 403 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and Article 13 of the Constitution, which state that no person can be prosecuted or punished for the same offence more than once.

The defence lawyers' application was apparently aimed at stymieing the prosecution's efforts to gain access to Kasab, the lone surviving attacker involved in the Mumbai attacks, and terror suspect Fahim Ansari.

Kasab has been convicted and sentenced to death by an Indian court.

The same court acquitted Ansari, but he continues to be in custody in connection with other cases.

However, the prosecution could not present its arguments during Saturday's hearing in the anti-terrorism court as chief prosecutor Chaudhry Azhar did not appear before the judge.

Judge Rana subsequently adjourned the case till April 23.

Shahbaz Rajput, one of the defence lawyers, told PTI that the prosecution's new application was aimed at making the case "linger on to the maximum extent". He said it would lead to further delays in the trial.

The seven Pakistani suspects, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, have been charged with planning, facilitating and financing the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.

The judge is conducting the proceedings behind closed doors at Adiala Jail for security reasons. The trial has been marred by repeated delays over technical matters. The judge has been changed thrice and only one of more than 160 prosecution witnesses has testified so far.