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26/11: Pak judicial commission's visit to India delayed

Source: PTI
February 07, 2012 17:43 IST
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The visit of the Pakistani judicial commission on Mumbai attacks to India has been delayed further with a court, conducting the trial of seven suspects in the case, on Tuesday adjourning the matter till February 11.

Anti-terrorism court Judge Shahid Rafique adjourned the proceedings after defence lawyers sought a delay in the commission's proposed visit to India, sources told PTI.

Khwaja Haris Ahmed, counsel for Lashkar-e-Tayiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, requested the judge to fix a date for the commission's visit after February 12 as a religious ceremony following his father's death was scheduled for that date. Ahmed's father, Khwaja Sultan Ahmed, was Lakhvi's lawyer till his death last month. Ahmed said it would not be possible for him to join the commission if it travelled to India before February 12.

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Indian authorities had earlier asked the Pakistani government to send the commission between February 1 and 10. Though the court was expected to set the date for the visit, Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik announced to the media that the commission would travel to India during February 3-6.

Official sources said it now seemed unlikely that the commission would be able to make the visit within the timeframe given by the Indian government. Though prosecution lawyers had filed an application in the anti-terrorism court on February 3 for an early hearing so that the judge could authorise the commission to leave for India, they did not press the issue during Tuesday's hearing.

"This (religious ceremony for Lakhvi's late lawyer) is a genuine issue and we have no objection if a new date is fixed after February 12," chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulifqar said.

Khwaja Haris Ahmed too did not press his application asking the court not to send record of the trial to India. The judge disposed of his application, sources said.

The Pakistani judicial commission is scheduled to interview the magistrate who recorded the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker, the police officer who led the investigation in Mumbai and two doctors who conducted the autopsies of the terrorists and victims.

Lakhvi and the six other suspects have been charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks that killed 166 people in November 2008. However, their trial has stalled over various technical issues for the past year.

Prosecutors have said the commission's visit to India is necessary to take forward the trial.

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