Despite a lapse of about two weeks, the government has not replied to the Indian government’s letter inquiring when Pakistani officials will travel to India to record their statements regarding the Mumbai attack probe.
Concerned officials of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) ignored the directives of Interior Minister Rehman Malik and FIA Director General Syed Tahsin Anwar Ali Shah by not referring the case to the ministry of finance for its approval of travel and accommodation expenses due to be incurred.
According to the contents of the letter entitled ‘Mumbai terror attacks case’ obtained by The Express Tribune, the Indian ministry of external affairs vide its note dated January 16, 2012, has conveyed that the judicial commission may visit Mumbai during the period between February 1 and 10, 2012.
The letter requested that the judicial commission’s exact date of visit and details of travel itinerary be conveyed to enable authorities concerned to make necessary arrangements.
The Pakistani team comprises a member of the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) of FIA, special public prosecutors of the FIA, a staffer of the Anti Terrorism Court Rawalpindi and the defence counsel of the accused.
All the expenditure incurred by the defence counsel including visa arrangements will be borne by the Government of Pakistan, an official of the interior ministry revealed.
The Indian authorities had sent the name of their judicial officer (JO) to work with Pakistani authorities during the last week of November 2011. These officials will cooperate with each other for the first time and interrogate Ajmal Kasab, while recording statements and evidence from prosecution witnesses residing in India.
An anti-terrorism court (ATC) on November 29, 2011, was informed that the chief justice of Mumbai High Court has nominated a magistrate who will preside over the commission, also consisting of members from Pakistan.
When ATC Judge Shahid Rafique resumed the hearing in Adiala Jail, the special public prosecutor of FIA informed him that the court of the metropolitan magistrate in Mumbai has been designated as the place of proceedings.
He said chief metropolitan magistrate S S Shinde would chair the proceedings on behalf of ATC Rawalpindi. The prosecutor also filed an application seeking permission to record the statements of witnesses living in India. He requested the court to direct the defence counsels to provide passports and other necessary documents to the interior ministry for the arrangement of Indian visas.
The anti-terrorism court, conducting the trial of seven men charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks on January 17, adjourned proceedings till January 28 after the accused, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s operational commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, sought time to appoint a new lawyer.
Seven suspects, including Lakhvi, have been charged with planning, financing and facilitating the Mumbai attacks.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2012.
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