Pakistan court stays hearing in Mumbai terror attack case, says witnesses scared
During the proceedings, Kiyani remarked several witnesses “were not appearing due to fear and whereabouts of some were unknown”, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.Updated: Jan 23, 2019 23:41 IST
A Pakistani court has suspended the 26/11 trial to give the prosecution more time to produce 19 witnesses who haven’t testified so far, with a judge observing that some witnesses were not appearing out of fear.
A division bench of the Islamabad high court, comprising Justices Aamer Farooq and Mohsin Akhtar Kiyani, on Tuesday stopped the hearing of the case in an anti-terrorism court till next week following a petition from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), which wanted time to produce the witnesses.
During the proceedings, Kiyani remarked several witnesses “were not appearing due to fear and whereabouts of some were unknown”, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
There was no response from the external affairs ministry to this latest twist in Mumbai attacks trial that has lasted nearly 10 years, though people familiar with developments said India has repeatedly taken up the tardiness and lack of progress in the trial in Pakistan.
“It has been more than 10 years and the perpetrators of this dastardly attack have not been brought to justice. India has shared all the evidence with them. We offered to allow another of their judicial committees to visit to examine witnesses [in India], if required,” said a person familiar with the matter on condition of anonymity.
Former Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif admitted in an interview in 2018 that the terrorists responsible for the Mumbai attacks came from Pakistan, the people cited above said. The planning and execution was done from Pakistan and even PM Imran Khan suggested during an interaction with the Indian media in November 2018 that the attacks originated from Pakistan and the perpetrators should be brought to justice, they added. “If Pakistan really wanted to make progress in the Mumbai trial, it could have chosen to take [the testimony of] David Headley, who has confessed and given evidence of the attack being planned from Pakistan. He has, in his plea bargain with the US, agreed to appear as a witness ... His deposition was used in [Ajmal] Kasab’s trial in India,” the first person said.
During the hearing in the Islamabad high court, FIA prosecutor Akram Qureshi told the judges that many witnesses who haven’t testified so far have been traced by the agency. Justice Kiyani asked if these witnesses would appear in the anti-terrorism court, and Qureshi replied some witnesses were ready to do so. The anti-terrorism court was set to hear the Mumbai attacks case on January 23 but the high court put off the proceedings for a week. The trial in the anti-terrorism court against seven suspects — Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, and six others— has made little headway in the past decade. Lakhvi was granted bail in April 2015 and his whereabouts are not known. The other six are being held in the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi. Defence lawyer Raja Rizwan Abbasi sought to blame India for the delay. However, the people cited above said that besides India, the 14 other countries which lost their nationals have repeatedly called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.