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Pak judicial commission to arrive in Mumbai on Feb 3

January 29, 2012 18:41 IST

A Pakistani judicial commission will arrive in Mumbai on February 3 to record the statements of key persons involved in Mumbai attack probe.

Official sources said that officers of the crime branch have been asked to provide assistance to the Pakistani commission during their visit here for which the Bombay high court had recently given a go-ahead.

The commission will be recording the statement of Ramesh Mahale, the 26/11 case investigating officer and R V Sawant-Waghul, the Magistrate who recorded the confessional statement of lone surviving Pakistani gunman Ajmal Kasab.

The statements of a few doctors of J J Hospital who treated Kasab will also be recorded, the sources said.

All the statements would be recorded at Esplanade court in south Mumbai, they said.

Pakistan has already issued a gazette notification on the formation of the judicial commission and has listed the members who will represent the 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 commission will also have representatives of the defence lawyers. Accordingly, five counsel of seven Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks had informed the anti-terrorism court that they were prepared to go to India.

The commission was announced by Pakistan in response to a directive from the anti-terrorism court that is conducting the trial of seven Pakistani suspects, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zaki-ur Rehman Lakhvi, who have been charged with planning and financing the attacks in 2008 that killed 166 people.

The five lawyers were 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 in New Delhi in March last year, India had agreed to the Pakistani proposal to host the judicial commission of that country as Islamabad maintained that it was necessary to send the panel to India as part of the judicial process in Pakistan.

Pakistan's contention is that the charges against 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 snail's 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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