Mumbai case hearing in Pak likely to resume

Islamabad: The trial of seven Pakistani suspects, including LeT commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks is expected to resume this weekend following the appointment of a new judge today to hear the case. Lahore High Court Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial approved the appointment of Chaudhry Habib-ur-Rehman as the judge of the Rawalpindi-based anti-terrorism court No. 1.

This is the court conducting the trial of those charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks and the 2007 assassination of former premier Benazir Bhutto. The registrar of the Lahore High Court issued a notification regarding Rehman`s appointment, officials said. The judge hearing the Mumbai attacks case has been changed five times since proceedings began in early 2009.

On June 16, the trial of the Pakistani suspects charged with involvement in the Mumbai attacks was adjourned for a second consecutive week as no judge was available to hear the case. The next hearing of the case is scheduled for June 23. During a hearing on June 5, it emerged that anti-terrorism court Judge Shahid Rafique had been transferred and posted as district and sessions judge in Jhang district of Punjab province.

The trial has dragged on behind closed doors at Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi without much progress. The proceedings in the Mumbai attacks case have been marred by numerous controversies and technical delays, and only a handful of over 160 prosecution witnesses have testified so far. In September last year, there were no proceedings for several weeks as no judge was assigned to the case. 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.