An anti-terrorism court (ATC) has deferred announcing a decision till March 26 on a plea by state prosecutors to declare Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker in the 2008 Mumbai attack, a proclaimed offender.
During the hearing held behind closed doors on Saturday at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi, public prosecutors Chaudhry Zulfiqar and Chaudhry Azhar completed their arguments, urging ATC Judge Nisar Ahmed Khan to declare the accused ‘wanted’ in the case.
They said that the case against seven other men, who had been arrested for allegedly planning the Mumbai attacks, was pending for more than a year because Kasab was not appearing before the court.
Prosecution requested the judge to take action against Kasab under section 512 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) as the trial court had already issued non-bailable arrest warrants in April last year.
He said the move would help the court take action against the seven other arrested men, including Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the terrorist attacks.
Khawaja Sultan Ahmed, who appeared on behalf of Lakhvi and other accused, argued that Kasab could not be retried in Pakistan. He said that section 403 of the CrPC also barred a retrial of a person who was once convicted or acquitted on the same charges.
Urging the court to drop the case against Kasab, he said that Kasab was not only convicted in India, he had also been sentenced to death. He reminded the court that it had already refused to declare Kasab a proclaimed offender on March 27 last year.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had filed a petition in April last year with the LHC Rawalpindi bench after the anti-terrorism court refused to declare Kasab and Ansari proclaimed offenders. However, the LHC division bench had directed FIA to approach the trial court in this regard.
Other men arrested in the Mumbai attacks in Pakistan include Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Younas Anjum, Jamil Ahmed, Mazhar Iqbal and Abdul Majid. All of them are said to be activists of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist organisation.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 20th, 2011.
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