Prosecutors for the Mumbai attacks case have assured the trial court that the Indian government would facilitate the proposed judicial commission to record the statements of investigators in India.
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had filed an application to form a judicial commission empowered to record the statements of prosecution witnesses and investigators of the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai last year. The application, filed by special public prosecutor Chaudhary Zulfiqar Ali, aimed to include Ajmal Kasab in the list of proclaimed offenders in Pakistan, under Section 503 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The trial court had declined to declare Kasab as a proclaimed offender in the case registered in Pakistan because he is not willfully absconding. Special Judge Anti-Terrorism Court-III Rana Nisar Ahmed heard the case.
Since the Lahore High Court has ruled that Kasab’s confessional statement recorded by an Indian magistrate is not legally admissible in Pakistan, it cannot be used as evidence against seven men arrested in Pakistan in connection with the assault. They are Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the alleged mastermind of the Mumbai attacks, Hammad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Younas Anjum, Jamil Ahmed, Mazhar Iqbal and Abdul Majid.
Prosecutors are trying to persuadethe trial court to form a commission to record the Indian magistrate’s statement so that Kasab’s confession could be used to indict the seven under-trial prisoners. Their defence lawyers are, however, opposing the formation of the commission. They argue that under the law, it “is not permissible” and that they felt insecure about visiting India. The proceedings against their clients came to a halt in Pakistan after legal experts found it difficult to connect Kasab’s confessional statement, which is a major piece of evidence against the alleged plotters of the terrorist attacks, with the case.
The court has fixed June 11 as the next date of hearing and directed prosecutors to provide copies of medical reports of the people who died in the attacks and all the relevant record available in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2011.