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Mumbai case trial in Pak adjourned till July 14

Islamabad: In yet another delay in the trial of seven Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks, the matter was today adjourned till July 14 when the court will take up an application filed by Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi.

Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman, who was recently appointed the judge of the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court no 1, began hearing the case today. He said arguments by Lakhvi`s lawyer on the application will be heard at the next hearing. The Lashkar-e-Taiba operations commander has filed an application asking the court not to make the report of a Pakistani judicial commission part of the proceedings as it has "no legal value".

The eight-member commission, which included prosecutors and defence lawyers, visited Mumbai earlier this year and interviewed a judge, a senior police officer and two doctors who conducted the autopsies of the terrorists involved in the attacks and their victims. Defence lawyers have contended that the commission`s report has no legal value as the panel did not have the right to cross-examine witnesses in India. Lakhvi`s lawyer Khwaja Haris Ahmed has said the commission`s visit to India was an exercise in futility.

The anti-terrorism court no 1 is conducting the trial of those charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks and hearings are held behind closed doors at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi due to security reasons. Despite Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik`s claim that the Mumbai attacks case has been put on a fast track, there were no other hearings this month as the last judge conducting the trial was transferred.

The judge hearing the Mumbai attacks case has been changed five times since proceedings began in early 2009. The proceedings have been marred by numerous controversies and technical delays, and only a handful of over 160 prosecution witnesses have testified so far. The seven suspects, including Lakhvi, have been charged with planning, financing and executing the terror attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people in November 2008.

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