Lahore: Pakistan has asked India to send all the 24 Indian witnesses to depose before the anti-terrorism court holding the Mumbai attack trial, the chief prosecutor in the high-profile case said on Sunday.
“The foreign ministry has written to the Indian government asking it to send all 24 Indian witnesses to Pakistan for recording statements in the trial court in the Mumbai attack case," Prosecution Chief Chaudhry Azhar told PTI.
He said the Anti-Terrorism Court Islamabad has already completed recording the statements of all Pakistani witnesses in the case which has been underway in the country for more than six years.
“Now the ball is in India’s court. The Indian government should send all Indian witnesses of the Mumbai case to Pakistan to record their statements so that the trial could further move ahead," said Azhar, who is also a special prosecutor of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).
Last month, the court, which is holding the trial of the seven accused including Mumbai attack mastermind and LeT operations commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, had ordered the FIA to present all 24 Indian witnesses in court to record their statements.
It had also ordered to bring back to Pakistan the boats used by Ajmal Kasab and other militants on the grounds that they are case property and should be duly examined. The 8-member Pakistani judicial commission had visited India on behalf of the Pakistani anti-terrorism court (ATC).
The statements of the Indian witnesses were supposed to be used as evidence in the trial. However, Lakhvi’s lawyer had challenged the commission’s proceedings because Chief Metropolitan Magistrate S. S. Shinde did not let its members cross-examine witnesses.
The trial court in Lahore subsequently declared the proceedings of the commission illegal. Pakistani authorities have arrested seven LeT members involved with the planning of the 2008 Mumbai attack.
Apart from Lakhvi, other arrested LeT men are Abdul Wajid, Mazhar Iqbal, Sadiq, Shahid Jamil, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum.
A trial is underway against them at the ATC since 2009. Lakhvi, 55, secured bail in December 2014 and was subsequently released from Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi on 10 April, 2015, after the Lahore High Court set aside the government’s order to detain him under a public security act.
Six other accused are lodged in the Adiala Jail for over six years in connection with planning and executing the Mumbai attack in which 166 people were killed. PTI