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26/11 case: Pak court orders deposition of Indian witnesses

Headley deposed through video-conference

Islamabad : The Pakistani anti-terrorism court holding the Mumbai attack trial has ordered the Federal Investigation Agency to present all 24 Indian witnesses before it so that their statements can be recorded, an order which could further delay proceedings in the high-profile case.

The Anti-Terrorism Court in Islamabad, which is holding the trial of the seven accused including Mumbai attack mastermind and LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, in its hearing yesterday at Adiala Jail Rawalpindi also directed that the boats used by Ajmal Kasab and others should be brought back from India and made case property.

“The trial court has ordered the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) director general to present all 24 Indian witnesses in the court for recording of their statements. Besides, he also ordered to bring (to Pakistan) the boat(s) used by Ajmal Kasab as it is a case property and should be duly examined,” a court official told PTI.

The official said the interior ministry will write to the foreign ministry in this regard.

He said the statements of four key Indian witnesses recorded by the Pakistani commission in 2012 were not admissible in the trial court as the Indian government had not allowed their cross-examination.

The 8-member Pakistani judicial commission had recorded the statement of Senior Inspector Ramesh Mahale, who had investigated the 26/11 attack case.

The commission had also recorded the statements of two doctors who conducted autopsies of 26/11 victims and the nine slain terrorists, before winding up its proceedings.

Magistrate R V Sawant-Waghule who had taken on record Kasab’s confession soon after his arrest had also recorded his statement.

The judicial commission had visited India on behalf of the Pakistani anti-terrorism court (ATC).

The statements of the Indian witnesses were supposed to be used as evidence in the trial.

However, Lakhvi’s lawyer had challenged the commission’s proceedings because Chief Metropolitan Magistrate S S Shinde did not let its members cross-examine witnesses.

The trial court here subsequently declared the proceedings of the commission illegal.

Pakistani authorities have arrested seven LeT members involved with the planning of the attacks.

Apart from Lakhvi, other arrested LeT men are Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Sadiq, Shahid Jamil, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum. A trial is underway against them at the ATC since 2009.

Lakhvi, 55, secured bail in December last year and was subsequently released from Adiala Jail on April 10 after the Lahore High Court set aside the government’s order to detain him under a public security act.

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