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Pakistan panel records witnesses' statements

Staff Reporter
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Members of the Pakistan Judicial Commission leave the Esplanade court in Mumbai on Saturday after recording statements of the 26/11 terror attack witnesses.— Photo: Vivek Bendre
Members of the Pakistan Judicial Commission leave the Esplanade court in Mumbai on Saturday after recording statements of the 26/11 terror attack witnesses.— Photo: Vivek Bendre

The Pakistan Judicial Commission which is in the city to record the statements of four witnesses of the November 26, 2008, terror attack, completed its work on Saturday.

“We have finished recording the statements of all the witnesses,” a judicial commission member told journalists outside the Esplanade court here.

MNS protest

Meanwhile, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) workers waved black flags at the commission here on Saturday evening at Marine Plaza, the hotel where the delegation is put up. MNS leader Bala Nandgaonkar said a four-member party delegation wanted to meet the commission members to hand over a memorandum seeking prosecution of the masterminds of the 26/11 terror attack.

“Please listen to me, all we want to do is to meet a few members of the commission and hand over this memorandum to them. We have not done anything illegal, we only want permission to meet the commission,” Bala Nandgaonkar told the police even as they took him to the police station.

The party workers shouted slogans and carried placards which read, “When are we going to hang Kasab?”

The police arrested more than a dozen protesters and seized the black flags. Police officials said the protesters were arrested under the Bombay Police Act for breaching the prohibitive orders of the Mumbai Police Commissioner.

Witnesses' statements recorded

During the day, the members of the commission arrived at the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate's court around 10 a.m. and the court proceedings began at 10.15 a.m.

Chief Investigating Officer Ramesh Mahale's statement was recorded for nearly three hours in the morning. Mr. Mahale told the commission during the in-camera proceedings about the evidence which proved that the conspiracy was hatched in Pakistan.

“He disclosed about the criminal conspiracy of the attack, the way Kasab carried out the killings, how the terrorists were in touch with the conspirators on an international telephone, how they all came to Mumbai,” a source privy to the court proceedings told The Hindu .

“When Mr. Mahale was deposing before the commission, Mr. [Ujjwal] Nikam [Special Public Prosecutor of the Government of India] told the Pakistani Public Prosecutor to ask certain questions about the investigation. The defence lawyers of [Lashkar-e-Taiba operative] Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi and other accused raised an objection to it. When the position of the Indian law on the issue was explained, the court overruled their objection,” an official told The Hindu .

The court recorded Mr. Mahale's statement till around 1 p.m. It then recorded the statements of two doctors of two State-run hospitals, Nair and J J Hospitals.

“The doctors told the court about their findings during the post-mortem examination of the nine terrorists. They told the court what they found while doing the autopsies of the victims who had died in the attacks and the bullet injuries and reasons for their death,” the official said.

The statements of both the doctors were recorded within a period of nearly an hour-and-a-half. The commission's work was over by around 2.45 p.m.

On the first day of their functioning on Friday, the commission had recorded the statement of Rama Vijay Sawant Waghule, the magistrate who had recorded the statement of the lone surviving terrorist Kasab, for over an hour-and-a-half. All the remaining three witnesses were examined on Saturday.

Official sources told The Hindu that the Indian government had already sent the copies of evidence and other relevant documents to Pakistan and thus the Pakistan Judicial Commission would not carry any fresh documents with it. Police officials said the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate will prepare a report of the proceedings and send it to the Pakistan court.

The eight-member commission and three members of the Pakistan High Commission are expected to leave the city for New Delhi on Sunday. They may then leave New Delhi for Pakistan on Monday, official sources told The Hindu .


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