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26/11: Pak judicial commission likely to visit India in Jan

December 29, 2011 18:03 IST

Pakistan has formally conveyed to India that its nine-member judicial commission will visit New Delhi next month to interview key persons linked to the probe into the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

New Delhi was informed on Tuesday that the Pakistan judicial commission will visit India in January 2012 and the mutually convenient dates of the tour will be finalised soon, official sources said.

The commission will take the statements of Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate R V Sawant Waghule and Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale, who have recorded the  confessional statement of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving terrorist involved in the 26/11 attacks, to pursue the case in Pakistan.

It also wanted to take the statements of the two doctors who carried out the post mortem of the terrorists killed. "We have conveyed the Pakistan's communication to Bombay high court for information and necessary action," a source said.

The government has to inform the high court about the visit of the judicial commission as the terror incident and the trial of the case had taken place under its area of jurisdiction.

Pakistan has already issued a gazette notification on the formation of the judicial commission and has listed the members who will represent Pakistan government.

The delegation will include Khalid Qureshi, the head of the Federal Investigation Agency's Special Investigation Group, and Muhammad Azhar Chaudhry and Chaudhry Zulifqar, the two main prosecutors.

The notification further said that representatives of the defence lawyers too would be part of the commission. Accordingly, five counsel of the seven Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in Mumbai attacks had informed the anti-terrorism court that they were prepared to go to India.

The notification was issued in response to a directive from the anti-terrorism court that is conducting the trial of seven Pakistani suspects, including Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, who have been charged with planning and financing the attacks in 2008 that killed 166 people.

The five lawyers include Lakhvi's counsel Khwaja Sultan, Riaz Cheema, Asam bin Haris and Fakhar-e-Hayat. The defence team submitted the passports and other documents of the five lawyers to the court.

During the Home Secretary-level talks held here in March, India agreed to the Pakistani proposal to host the judicial commission of that country. Islamabad has been maintaining that it is necessary to send the commission to India as part of its judicial process.

Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik, during his meeting with Home Minister P Chidambaram on the sidelines of a South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation meeting in Thimphu in July, had "affirmed that his ministry was working towards an early visit of a judicial commission from Pakistan to India".

Islamabad's contention is that the charges against the seven LeT operatives, including its 'operation commander' Lakhvi, lodged in a jail there, are based on Kasab's statement in Mumbai and hence the magistrate and the IO's statements are necessary to submit before the anti-terror court.

The trial in the Rawalpindi court has been going on at a very slow pace and Indian officials are not very optimistic that the guilty will be punished any time soon.

Curiously, four judges of the court have been changed ever since the trial began in early 2009. Shahid Rafique is the fifth judge to hear the case.
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