Pakistan puts off Mumbai case for month

Author: By Augustine Anthony, Reuters

India wants forceful action by Pakistan to bring to justice leaders of the
Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group it says were behind the attacks in late
November before formally resuming a peace process that was frozen during the
subsequent tensions.

The government’s prosecutor, Malik Rab Nawaz Noon, said formal charges against
the accused had not yet been framed and Saturday’s proceedings ended after
some statements were recorded.

A member of the prosecution team and a defence lawyer said the court adjourned
until 29 August, and officials said the court had accepted a request by the
Federal Investigation Agency for the hearing to be held “in camera”.

The media and public have been barred from hearings being held at the Adiala
jail in Rawalpindi, the garrison town next door to Islamabad, and lawyers
from both sides have divulged little during pre-trial proceedings.

Across the border in India, a trial in Mumbai opened dramatically earlier this
week when Mohammad Ajmal Kasab, the only one of 10 Pakistani gunmen captured
alive, pleaded guilty and asked to be hanged.

Having sent a dossier to New Delhi earlier this month, Pakistan has said it is
waiting for more information from India to support the prosecution case,
though Indian officials say all relevant information has been passed on.

Security concerns were cited as the reason for holding the trial inside the
jail, though critics say the secrecy fuelled suspicions that Pakistani
intelligence agencies don’t want any relationships with the jihadis to be
aired in public.

The suspects on trial at Adiala include Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a commander of
the Lashkar-e-Taiba militant group, and four others Hammad Amin, Abdul Wajid
alias Zarar Shah, Mazhar Iqbal alias Abu al Qama and Shahid Jameel Riaz.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik earlier this month released photographs of the
men along with 13 other suspects who have still to be caught.

22 foreigners were killed during the assault on two luxury hotels, a Jewish
centre, a restaurant and railway station in Mumbai.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation provided critical support in the Indian
probe.

Richard Holbrooke, US Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said on
Thursday he was unsure whether US officials had asked to attend the hearings
at the Rawalpindi prison as observers, and the US Embassy in Islamabad had
still to respond to queries on whether such a request had been lodged.

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