A Pakistani anti-terror court on Wednesday rejected an application seeking acquittal of LeT operations chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi and six others charged with helping plan and execute the Mumbai attacks.
It also turned down an application by the suspects for Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone terrorist arrested alive during the attacks, to be brought to Pakistan from India for trial.
Judge Malik Muhammad Akram Awan, who is conducting the trial within Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for security reasons, directed the prosecution to present evidence against the accused at the next hearing on January 16.
He rejected the applications filed by the suspects after hearing arguments by defence lawyers and the prosecution, which told the court that it has “strong evidence” against the accused.
The suspects had last month filed an application under Section 265-K of the Code of Criminal Procedure seeking their acquittal on the ground that there is no probability of their being convicted for any offence.
The defence lawyers had challenged the prosecution’s decision to use Kasab’s statement to Indian authorities on the ground that the accused were not given an opportunity to cross-examine Kasab in the Pakistani court.
They had also questioned the prosecution’s decision to use Kasab’s statement after he recently retracted his confession.
The accused — Lakhvi, Zarar Shah, Abu al-Qama, Hamad Amin Sadiq, Shahid Jamil Riaz, Jamil Ahmed and Younas Anjum - were last year formally charged with planning and helping execute the assault on India’s financial hub in November 2008.
The anti-terror court has issued notice to one of the defence lawyers after he contended that Judge Awan had indicted the accused on the basis of charges that were framed and argued while the case was being heard by another judge.
The notice pointed out that the records of the case are sealed and the lawyer could make such a claim only if he had accessed the records.
The notice also said that if the lawyer had accessed the sealed records, he had interfered in the working of the court.
The defence lawyer responded to the court’s notice on Tuesday and this matter will be taken up again at the next hearing on January 16, sources said.