Lakhvi plea:Pak court reserves verdict

Lahore: A Pakistani court today reserved its verdict on a petition filed by Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, charged with masterminding the Mumbai attacks, seeking the transfer of his trial from an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi to Lahore. The petition was heard by Lahore High Court Chief Justice Ijaz Chaudhry, who reserved his verdict after hearing arguments from both sides.

Lakhvi`s counsel Khwaja Sultan sought the transfer of the case on the plea of "unfair trail and security reasons". He said the anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi was not working independently as the government was allegedly influencing the case because of "Indian pressure".

In his petition, Lakhvi also expressed his lack of trust in anti-terrorism court Judge Shahid Rafique. He further said a contempt of court application had been moved against Interior Minister Rehman Malik for having said that a judicial commission had been formed to visit India even before the anti-terrorism court had allowed the formation of the panel.

Sultan said the Federal Investigation Agency had filed an application in the anti-terrorism court about despatching the judicial commission to India and completed its arguments on the issue while the defence counsel were yet to present their arguments on behalf of Lakhvi and the other accused. He contended that Malik`s statement was an attempt to give the impression that the government was "controlling or influencing the judicial proceedings". Sultan said the anti-terrorism court had dropped the contempt proceedings against Malik merely on the basis of a clarification from the prosecution counsel.

Last year, former Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Muhammad Sharif had declined Lakhvi?s application for transferring his trial from Rawalpindi to Lahore. At that time, Lakhvi had contended that his life was in danger as personnel of "Indian secret agencies" were roaming in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Lakhvi and six other have been charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Their trial has been marred by controversy and numerous delays for technical reasons.