Pak court notification for panel visit of India

Islamabad: A Pakistani judicial panel would visit India on March 14 as part of the probe into the Mumbai attacks, an anti-terrorism court conducting the trial of LeT`s Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six other suspects notified today.

Judge Shahid Rafique notified the date for the commission`s much-delayed visit during proceedings held behind closed doors at a prison in Rawalpindi this afternoon.

The judge further notified the appointment of Fazal Majid, a Deputy Director in the Interior Ministry, as the coordinator for the commission`s visit. The appointment was made in response to an application from defence lawyers, sources said.

"The court has notified that the commission will visit India on March 14 and appointed a coordinator," Khwaja Haris Ahmed, the counsel for Lakhvi, told PTI.

The commission will travel by air from Lahore to Delhi before going to Mumbai. "They (the authorities) want us to complete some formalities in Delhi," said Ahmed.

Prosecutors could not present the record of the inquiry by the chief investigation officer in India despite a direction from the court, sources said.

Chief prosecutor Chaudhry Zulifqar Ali told the judge that Pakistani authorities had sought the report from their Indian counterparts but were yet to receive it.

The court subsequently adjourned the case till March 10. The itinerary and other details for the judicial commission`s visit would be worked out by the Interior Ministry, sources said. The commission will include two prosecutors from the Federal Investigation Agency, five defence lawyers and officials from the Interior and Foreign Ministries.

The Indian government had earlier asked Pakistan to send the commission between February 1 and 10. However, the panel could not go ahead with the visit due to various reasons, including questions that were raised about its constitution.

The Pakistani commission is scheduled to interview the magistrate who recorded the confession of Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker, the police officer who led the investigation in Mumbai and two doctors who conducted the autopsies of the terrorists and victims.

Lakhvi and six other suspects have been charged with planning, financing and executing the attacks that killed 166 people in November 2008. However, their trial has stalled over various technical issues for the past year.

Pakistani prosecutors have said the commission`s visit to India is necessary to take forward the trial.