Mumbai trial adjourned till Jun 2

Islamabad: The trial of seven Pakistani suspects, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks was today adjourned till June 2 as the prosecutors were unwell.

Chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulifqar Ali requested anti-terrorism court Judge Shahid Rafique to give the prosecution two weeks to prepare for argument on objections submitted by defence lawyers regarding the report on a Pakistani judicial commission`s visit to India.

The judge granted the request during proceedings conducted behind closed doors at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi and adjourned proceedings till June 2. Khwaja Haris Ahmed, the lawyer for Lakhvi, told PTI that the prosecution had informed the court that its lawyers were not well and they needed more time to prepare for arguments. He said the defence lawyers had raised several objections to the report on the judicial commission`s visit to India.

Ahmed, who was a member of the judicial commission, contended that Indian authorities had been more interested in "facilitating" Indian lawyers than the visiting Pakistani members. The defence had also raised an objection over the agreement between India and Pakistan that the members of the judicial commission could not cross-examine witnesses. "Without cross-examination, the whole exercise turned out to be a futile," he contended.

The eight-member judicial commission, which included prosecution and defence lawyers, visited India in March. The panel travelled to Mumbai, where it recorded the statements of the magistrate who recorded the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker, the police officer who led the investigation into the attacks and two doctors who conducted the autopsies of the terrorists and victims. Indian officials had expressed surprise at Ahmed`s remarks about being barred from cross-examining Indian officials in Mumbai.

"Under the agreement for the commission`s visit, it was made very clear beforehand that the panel would not be allowed to do any cross-examination," an Indian official told PTI. 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. The trial of the suspects has stalled due to various technical issues for over a year.