A Pakistani anti-terrorism court has directed authorities to arrange the visit of a panel of lawyers to India to cross-examine four key witnesses in the Mumbai attacks case. Judge Atiqur Rehman of the anti-terrorism court here yesterday directed the National Crisis Management Cell of the Interior Ministry to arrange the visit.
He issued the order in response to an application filed by the Federal Investigation Agency through Special Prosecutor Mohammad Azhar Chaudhry, according to media reports today. Chaudhry requested the judge to direct the federal government to coordinate with Indian authorities to ensure the security of the Pakistani lawyers during their stay in India.
He claimed that it was necessary for the government to take up this issue in view of recent protests outside the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi. The Pakistani commission is expected to visit Mumbai to cross-examine four witnesses, including Magistrate R V Sawant Waghule, who recorded the confessional statement of lone surviving attacker Ajmal Kasab, the chief investigating officer of the Mumbai attacks case and the two doctors who conducted the autopsy of the slain attackers.
The commission had visited Mumbai in March last year and recorded the statements of these witnesses but a Pakistani anti-terrorism court rejected its report after defence lawyers pointed out that the panel was not allowed to cross-examine the Indian officials.
In January this year, India and Pakistan agreed on a second visit by the panel so that the Pakistani lawyers could cross-examine the witnesses. Pakistani authorities have arrested seven men, including Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, for alleged involvement in the planning and execution of the Mumbai attacks that killed 166 people.
However, their trial has progressed at a snail's pace due to technical problems and repeated changes of the judge hearing the case.