Pak court to take Mumbai petition on Feb 24

Lahore: A Pakistani court will on February 24 take up a crucial petition that has held up the trial of seven suspects, including Lashker-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, charged with involvement in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

The Federal Investigation Agency`s review petition asking for lone surviving attacker Ajmal Kasab and terror suspect Fahim Ansari to be declared "proclaimed offenders" or fugitives has been listed for hearing by the Rawalpindi bench of the Lahore High Court next week, officials said on Saturday.

The High Court will take up the petition two days before the next hearing in the case against the seven Pakistani suspects in an anti-terrorism court in Rawalpindi.

Proceedings in the anti-terrorism court have been held up till the High Court gives a ruling on FIA?s petition.

The FIA wants Kasab and Ansari to be declared proclaimed offenders so that their trial can be separated from that of the seven other suspects.

Khwaja Sultan, the counsel for Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, told PTI that the FIA`s review petition was a "tactic" by the government to delay the case in the anti-terrorism court.

Pakistani national Kasab was sentenced to death by a court in Mumbai for his role in the attacks on India`s financial hub that killed 166 people in November 2008.

Ansari, an Indian national, was acquitted by the same court but continues to be in custody in connection with other cases. The FIA`s petition asks the High Court to declare Kasab and Ansari as proclaimed offenders, to issue non-bailable warrants for them and to de-link their trial from that of the seven Pakistani suspects.